Raptors coach remembers MLK

Raptors head coach Dwane Casey yells instructions during a preseason game against the Celtics in...

Raptors head coach Dwane Casey yells instructions during a preseason game against the Celtics in Boston, Mass., Dec. 21, 2011. (ADAM HUNGER/Reuters)

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:46 PM ET

ATLANTA - Being an NBA head coach on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holds special meaning for the Raptors’ Dwane Casey.

The 54-year-old native of Morganfield, Ky., is old enough to remember how different things were in the American South when Dr. King was still around and how much things have changed for the better thanks to his movement.

Ahead of Toronto’s game in Atlanta, Casey reflected on what King means to him.

“I came up in the South, there was segregation, restaurants in Kentucky where we couldn’t go in the front door, we had to go in the back door,” Casey recalled.

“I remember the rallies, the Klan having rallies in my hometown and as a young kid, that leaves a mark on you.”

Casey went on to become the sixth African-American to play for Kentucky and was there as things started to shift at a school that famously had steadfastly remained all-white under coaches like Adolph Rupp — such as during the famous “Glory Road” game against all-black starting Texas Western College.

“Through my lifetime, I’ve seen a lot, experienced a lot but it’s all because of Dr. King and his movement throughout the United States and the world, that we’re able to enjoy this day as African-American people and as people as a whole because I think it helped people of all races come together to give us meaning and togetherness that you can’t put a price on,” Casey said.

The coach said he isn’t sure if his young charges appreciate the significance of King’s legacy, but he hopes they do.

“I think our players are very fortunate that they didn’t come up through a time when things were different and I’m fortunate my kids won’t have to do that and theirs won’t either.”

Casey singled out Toronto as a particularly progressive place.

“Living in a city like Toronto, where it is a melting pot of people of togetherness, it is beautiful and throughout the United States things have changed (too),” he said.


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