Former Duke basketball star Grant Hill called critical comments by former Michigan guard and current ESPN analyst Jalen Rose "sad and somewhat pathetic" in an open letter published Wednesday by The New York Times.
Rose, as part of an ESPN Films documentary "The Fab Five" that aired on Sunday (Rose was an executive producer), said Hill and other black Blue Devils basketball players recruited in the early 1990s were "Uncle Toms."
"I hated Duke and I hated everything Duke stood for. Schools like Duke didn't recruit players like me. I felt like they only recruited black players that were Uncle Toms," Rose said in the documentary.
Hill, in the letter published on the Times website and signed "Grant Henry Hill, Duke '94," wrote that "In his garbled but sweeping comment that Duke recruits only 'black players that were 'Uncle Toms,' Jalen seems to change the usual meaning of those very vitriolic words into his own meaning, i.e., blacks from two-parent, middle-class families. He leaves us all guessing exactly what he believes today. I am beyond fortunate to have two parents who are still working well into their 60s. They received great educations and use them every day. My parents taught me a personal ethic I try to live by and pass on to my children."
Hill added that: "My teammates at Duke -- all of them, black and white -- were a band of brothers who came together to play at the highest level for the best coach in basketball. I know most of the black players who preceded and followed me at Duke. They all contribute to our tradition of excellence on the court.
"It is insulting and ignorant to suggest that men like Johnny Dawkins (coach at Stanford), Tommy Amaker (coach at Harvard), Billy King (general manager of the Nets), Tony Lang (coach of the Mitsubishi Diamond Dolphins in Japan), Thomas Hill (small-business owner in Texas), Jeff Capel (former coach at Oklahoma and Virginia Commonwealth), Kenny Blakeney (assistant coach at Harvard), Jay Williams (ESPN analyst), Shane Battier (Memphis Grizzlies) and Chris Duhon (Orlando Magic) ever sold out their race."
Hill, who now plays for the Phoenix Suns of the NBA, noted in his letter that he played against Rose and teammate Chris Webber from the time they were 13 and said "the Fab Five represented a cultural phenomenon that impacted the country in a permanent and positive way."
But he also said in the letter "I caution my fabulous five friends to avoid stereotyping me and others they do not know in much the same way so many people stereotyped them back then for their appearance and swagger. I wish for you the restoration of the bond that made you friends, brothers and icons."
He added: "I am proud of my family. I am proud of my Duke championships and all my Duke teammates. And, I am proud I never lost a game against the Fab Five."
Duke won a pair of national titles when Hill was there. Michigan didn't win any, and Duke beat the Wolverines four times during Hill's career from 1990 to '94. Rose played at Michigan from 1992 to '94. The Wolverines lost in the NCAA title game in 1992 and '93.
Rose said earlier this week about his comments: "That's what I thought when I was 17" but didn't back away from what he said.