1978 Kentucky men’s basketball championship squad in the spotlight with SEC Storied “Win or Else”

Win or Else will feature Kentucky's 1978 basketball team, the first integrated team in the...
Win or Else will feature Kentucky's 1978 basketball team, the first integrated team in the school's history to win a National Championship.(Photo: SEC Network)
Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 4:32 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. - SEC Network will debut “Win or Else,” its latest SEC Storied film, on Monday, March 15 at 9 p.m. ET. The documentary will take an in-depth look at the Kentucky team that delivered the first NCAA championship for an integrated team in the school’s renowned basketball history when it won the 1978 title.

“Win or Else” reunites many of the players from that ’78 team, along with head coach Joe B. Hall, in an exploration of how this special team—led by seniors Jack Givens, James Lee, Rick Robey and Mike Phillips—thrived under unrelenting pressure in order to achieve greatness and become the first Kentucky team to win the NCAA Championship since the Wildcats won their fourth title under Adolph Rupp in 1958.

“Even though I grew up 15 minutes from what was one of the best basketball schools in the country, I didn’t dream of playing basketball at Kentucky like most of my white friends did,” says Givens, the Most Outstanding Player of the ’78 Final Four. “Coach Rupp was winning games and championships, but I never watched because I didn’t see anyone on the team who looked like me. Coach Hall started changing the culture and I started thinking about going there for my college basketball career. Still, when it came time for me to pick a school, the decision was not as easy as you would think. But it turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life!”

Narrated by Givens, the documentary is directed by David Beilinson and produced by Neil Amdur, both of Rumur Inc.

“While the journey of the 1978 Kentucky basketball team is not widely known, it is one of those stories that transcends sports,” says Beilinson. “The film explores how the players and coaches took the unrelenting pressure of the legendary program and turned it into immortal success. As the first integrated team to win a championship at Kentucky, during culturally turbulent times, this remarkable group of men set the standard for a new tradition that has fueled the program’s ascent to the pinnacle of the sport.”

Beilinson has been producing and directing documentary films for over 20 years. As a partner at Rumur Inc., he’s collaborated with ESPN, Netflix, HBO, A&E, NBC, ABC, IFC, Sundance Channel, and PBS, among others. His 30 for 30 film, “The Sweat Solution,” explores the origin story of Gatorade.

Amdur began his sports writing career at The Miami Herald, then joined the New York Times as a reporter in 1968, ultimately becoming the sports editor from 1990 through 2002. He also worked as a producer at CBS Sports and was editor-in-chief of World Tennis Magazine.