Remembering Glory Road and Its Place in Sports Movies
A few days ago, Glory Road was added to Disney-Plus, which brought plenty of excitement to El Pasoans with the new streaming service. The movie, which was filmed mostly in New Orleans but also at UTEP and other El Paso locations, told the story of Don Haskins and his Texas Western men's basketball team which captured the 1966 NCAA National Championship.
Glory Road grossed more than $13.5 million during its opening weekend and finished with a total gross amount of $42,647,449 during its theatrical run. It's IMDB ranking is 7.2 out of 10 and on Rotten Tomatoes it received an audience rating of 81%, but just a 55% score on their Tomatometer.
As someone who has lived in El Paso for the last 41 years and spent three of them working with Don Haskins on his weekly radio show, Glory Road is a film I am proud of. It helped put the 1965-66 Texas Western College team back in the spotlight while telling the story of their championship run to millions of people all over the country. Like most Hollywood productions, the story in Glory Road had plenty of inaccuracies, but there have been many books and documentaries published on this group of Miners. Dan Wetzel captured The Bear in his own words with the 2005 classic Glory Road (unrelated to the movie), while legendary local writer ray Sanchez wrote a pair of books on Coach Haskins and later his 1966 title team. David Snell's 2016 book, The Baron and The Bear has been extremely well received.
The most interesting and debated question is where Glory Road ranks among the greatest sports movies of all time? Taking this subject a step further, is it one of the best basketball films ever? Hoosiers is often mentioned as one of the best sports movies ever made and others like He Got Game, Space Jam, Blue Chips, White Men Can't Jump, Love and Basketball, Hoop Dreams, Coach Carter, Semi-Pro, Teen Wolf, and Above the Rim are also popular basketball films. That is a pretty impressive list of hoops films and that does not include the other sports classics.
I am not going to lie to you, my ranking has plenty of personal bias. I started attending UTEP basketball games in 1979 and I am attached to the program, Coach Haskins, and most of the players on that TWC championship team. I definitely would place Glory Road in my personal list of Top 3 basketball movies (along with Hoosiers and Hoop Dreams), but as I expand the list to include all sports, it would make my Top 20 overall. How about you?