The connection between Texas Western coach Don Haskins and Denver photog Rich Clarkson
The death this weekend of coach Don Haskins recalls one of the truly seminal moments in college basketball history. Back in 1966, Haskins' Texas Western team became the first with five black starters to win an NCAA championship, besting a segregated Kentucky squad in the process. The 2006 film Glory Road brought this story to a new generation of moviegoers but didn't do it justice. Indeed, arguably the best way to appreciate the lineup's accomplishments are the photos taken at the time by Denver photographer Rich Clarkson.
The November 2005 Message column about Clarkson focused on shots he took of Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, the two men convicted of the Kansas murders that led to Truman Capote's book In Cold Blood; he was the only shutterbug to get images of their trial. But Clarkson also became the dean of NCAA basketball photogs, getting exclusive content at many a Final Four, including the 1966 tourney. As a result, Clarkson's shots of Haskins and his crew wound up in Glory Road's original cut, with supplementary pics added to the DVD edition. And he was behind the lens for the photos that wound up on the Wheaties box above, which commemorated the fortieth anniversary of Texas Western's triumph.