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Talking With Attucks' Greats

Greg Slisz '10 - I traveled last week to Indianapolis to speak with some of the people involved with the great basketball teams of the early 1950s.  On Tuesday, I met with Mr. Cliff Robinson, who served as team manager of the Crispus Attucks basketball team from 1949-1953.  

Mr. Robinson recalled with great joy his times at Attucks and his experiences with being around the basketball teams with Indiana basketball legends such as Willie Gardner and Hallie Bryant.  He explained to me the importance of Crispus Attucks high school to the black community of Indianapolis and also expressed his reverence for Mr. Ray Crowe, the late Crispus Attucks basketball coach who coached the team from 1950 until 1957.  

Mr. Robinson, who also managed Mr. Crowe's basketball teams when Mr. Robinson was in middle school and Mr. Crowe taught in middle school at School 17, said that Mr. Crowe was a true role model before that term was even coined.  Mr. Robinson also spoke with pride about later attending St. Joseph's college and hitching a ride home to see the Attucks' historic state championship game victory in 1955. 

On Thursday, I spoke with Mr. Sam Milton, a reserve on the 1955 and 1956 Crispus Attucks teams that won state championships.  Mr. Milton also had fond memories of Mr. Crowe and also recalled playing with a group of his peers that had great camaraderie and truly enjoyed playing basketball together.  

Mr. Milton, who grew up playing middle school basketball with Oscar Robertson, also vividly recalls a key jump shot that he hit at the end of the team's narrow 71-70 semi-state victory over Muncie Central.  In Mr. Milton's home, plaques from both of the state championship-winning teams' enshrinement into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame were proudly displayed.  

Both Mr. Milton and Mr. Robinson said they felt  basketball helped bring their generation together.  Although the older generations at the time had a great deal of racism, both men said that most high school players had a mutual respect for each other, regardless of race.  The two interviews went great, and the two gentlemen provided a great deal of insight into a time that was much different than today.