Hoosiers 2: The Crispus Attucks Flying Tigers

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Coach Norman Dale in the movie Hoosiers, stated: “You know, most people would kill to be treated like a god, just for a few moments”. This reflective sentiment would be shared by some of the members of the 1955 Indiana High School Basketball State Championship team, the Crispus Attucks Flying Tigers, as they would become the first state basketball championship team to hail from the city of Indianapolis. Crispus Attucks High School was a school forged out of the doldrums of segregation, as the entire city’s African-American student population would be bussed to attend school there. Black consciousness and societal integration were at the forefront of the school’s identity and would be the driving force behind their basketball teams path to greatness, that would ultimately lead them to a state title. This monumental achievement, being that Indiana is a basketball crazed state, is the type of accomplishment that many liken to royalty, as the boys who obtain this crowning achievement were usually treated like princes when they returned home for their celebratory moment in the spotlight. However, this team’s moment in the sun, would be rerouted towards a slightly different stage. The normal championship parade route that would result in a communal gathering at the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Monument, would ultimately be cancelled for the honoring of the Crispus Attucks Flying Tigers. Their celebration would be held in a park not from their beloved school. The underlying belief was that African-Americans would riot during the victory parade, therefore, an alternate plan of celebration was devised. NBA legend and Hall of Fame player Oscar Robertson was a member of that historic Crispus Attucks team, and he boldly declared that the city didn’t want them and would acknowledge this said belief in his memoirs by stating how saddened and dejected he was about the unproven theory that African-Americans could not celebrate in a civilized decorum. He was quoted as saying “We weren’t savages. We were a group of civilized, intelligent young people who through the grace of God had happened to get together and win some basketball games. We’d just won the biggest game in the history of Indianapolis basketball. They took our innocence away from us.” In spite of this asterisk aligned celebration, the perseverance of the Crispus Attucks basketball team would not be thwarted, as they would go on to win their second straight state championship in 1956. Their celebration would mimic the same parade route, with a slight alteration that would allow the motorcade to circle around the famed monument, only to conclude at the same park as the prior year. A minor victory in the war on racism was this lap around the monument, but it also signified just how much work was still needed to achieve equality. Basketball often loses its historical referendum with regards to the modern athlete versus its predecessors enduring struggles. The same Oscar Robertson who played through adversity while seeking equality, would go on to fight for equal rights for players in the NBA as well. Some of those rights are the basic premises at the foundations modern player’s ability to become a free agent. Coach Norman Dale’s quote about Godly treatment rings soundly in the Lebron James’ and the Kobe Bryant’s of today, as they are treated like kings with the ransoms to prove it. I guess that one lap around that famed Indianapolis monument, turned into a global trip for many African-American basketball players who are now worldwide icons. It’s time to give the Big O, as well as, some recognition for those who have paved the way for today’s opportunities. They could start by playing with honor, pride and dignity instead of playing just for a paycheck. #remember the tigers

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