Robert Hughes, former basketball coach at I.M Terrell and Dunbar High School in Fort Worth, Texas, won more games (boys) than any other person in the history of the game. But how did this happen? How did a young man from Sapulpa, Oklahoma, youngest of five brothers, with an unremarkable high school career end up drafted by the Boston Celtics and during his 47-year coaching career, fully re-shape how basketball was played throughout the entire state of Texas while winning 1,333 games along the way?
This is a story about basketball– yet, its much bigger than basketball. The dynamics of race, politics, segregation, hopes, fears, jealousy and obsession come together to remind us that in America, sports is a mirror– and, basketball is a reflection– through which we are presented the opportunity to truthfully perceive our character, our nature and ourselves.
Baseball is America’s pastime, football, America’s game– but basketball is America’s conscience. Basketball reflects the complex American experience with simple clarity. It began as the sport of the disenfranchised– black kids and Jewish kids; poor white kids from rural town and hamlets– inner city kids living in housing projects and tenements– farm boys and sons and daughters of sharecroppers who performed three hours of chores each morning before basketball practice– native American teenage girls, hurled onto forgotten reservations with only a ball and a dream– Puerto Rican from the barrio who spoke little English, but understood the beauty of hoops. These are the people who gravitated to basketball. These are the people who built who built the Nation.
Coach Hughes’ story is an American story. It is larger than life. It is equal parts pain and triumph, grief and goodness.
For any of us who played the game or loved the game, this is our story too.
The trailer is here. The feature length documentary is coming soon. Robert Hughes: The Untold Story. A Film by Lindell Singleton and Ronald Nance.