I spoke with Scott Ellsworth, author of the award-winning book “The Secret Game,” about a basketball game played in secret–in defiance of Jim Crow–on a Sunday morning in 1944 between the North Carolina College for Negros team and an all-white military team from the Duke University Medical School (made up of several former college players).
I got the book as a Christmas gift from my mom, and finished it in five days. I highly recommend the book, and reached out to Mr. Ellsworth to get the background. Among the things we covered:
- The inspiration for the book, and how the original project was a look at the 1957 Final Four because of all-white North Carolina playing Kansas, with Wilt Chamberlain, shortly after Rosa Parks and in the middle of the Civil Rights movement.
- How the project was 20 years in the making, from the time he met John McClendon and it became his passion.
- I thought this would make a good sports/social film, and it turns out the movie rights have been optioned, though there has been no official announcement on the details. So expect it in theaters in the future.
- We also talked about current social issues and the intersection in sports, including Black Lives Matter, the University of Missouri, and calls for LeBron James to weigh in on Tamir Rice and the grand jury decision.