College / Mar 14, 2011 / 3:00 pm

The Fab Five: Thankfully, The Revolution Was Televised

The Fab Five

“The first day the Fab Five stepped on the University of Michigan campus, that was the start of a revolution. It just so happened that this revolution was televised.”Jalen Rose, The Fab Five

During last night’s dynamic and captivating premiere, I was immediately transported back to a time as a teenager when I wasn’t yet sure who I was, but I knew that I loved the game of basketball. And for anyone around my age, you understand that the Fab Five were something we all paid attention to as middle school players with varsity dreams.

We all loved the shoes, whether it was the Huaraches or the black Flights with the black socks. My freshman year shorts in the fall of 1992 were just like the ones Rose did not want to wear, but unfortunately Steve Fisher was not my head coach, and I had to suffer through the awkwardness of the uniforms in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

From the opening scene featuring the 1989 national champion Michigan Wolverines led by Glen Rice – in what was Fisher’s third week on the job – to how the signing of the Fab Five transpired, I was mesmerized by the footage and sound bites taken from the extensive interviews that were conducted.

Director Jason Hehir did a tremendous job communicating just how genuine this brotherhood immediately became for these five freshman who all went to Ann Arbor with one thing in mind: winning. We are reminded that back then, college basketball was ruled by experienced talent, which explains the champions that came immediately before, during and after the Fab Five. But it was delving deeper into who these young men were at the time, and how the culture around them made them feel.

When faced with their first matchup against Duke in the regular season, Rose and Jimmy King speak candidly about how they felt about certain Duke players, and more specifically about race. As Rose bluntly states when referring to Grant Hill as an African-American athlete whose parents were success stories, “They are who the world accepts; we are who the world hates.”

Learning about what fueled these five athletes to become a team that transformed not just college basketball, but our culture, shows us how powerful the combination of both sport and media can be. The camaraderie between the Fab Five, the coaches and the rest of the team took me back to certain important life experiences as both an athlete and a coach that I sometimes forget on a day-to-day basis.

From the trash talking to the hip-hop, from the scandal that later involved Chris Webber to two of the most memorable journeys to the championship game we have ever seen, ESPN takes us back to a time when barriers were broken, history was made and thankfully then, and now, it was televised.

What do you think? What was your takeaway from the film last night? What do the Fab Five mean to you?

Follow Eric on Twitter at @coachenew.

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  • Jon

    When I was in 8th grade I repped Michigan hard. I didn’t remember why, until last night.

    These guys changed basketball. The entire sport, from the shoes up.

  • Brown

    The Fab Five are the reason I watch college basketball, which I had never paid attention to until they came along. I’m a Michigan fan to this day because of them.

  • ERIC


    – Michigan Alum

  • bobby stew

    I was really impressed by how mature they are now. It seems like life taught them a lot of lessons and they truly learned from them. So many guys don’t learn what God is showing them. They all seem to be successful even though they could have found plenty of excuses to be bitter and angry at the world. This taught me not to judge them, especially since I don’t fully understand what they had to go through or where they came from. Jalen was always my favorite. CWebb was NEVER clutch. I was more surprised by his travel than his timeout

  • Shmoo2334

    Great article, Newman as always, keep em’ coming brother

    You think Webber knows how many time outs they had left now ?

    They were exciting, but they never won the big game, just couldn’t get it done…

  • lifep

    Not hating, just stating…please help me understand!

    How exactly did they change college basketball?

    UNLV Runnin’ Rebels should get more exposure than the Fab Five.

    Shouldn’t the real story be how Duke spanked them one year, then Carolina spanked them the next year :-)

    I appreciate their swag…that’s about it.


    When someone mentions the Fab Five, first thought across your mind is TIMEOUT!

  • Jabber

    Ummm…I went to IUfrom ’91-’95 and we spanked them 3 out of 4 in ’92 and ’93…

    But yes, a great group with incredible talent…

    Great story, Eric, thanks!

  • Cricket

    I could relate to those 5 brothers on so many levels…I was a young black teenager in college at the time…from the inner city..I was hooping…loved hip hop…baggy clothes…and the swag that they had…my favorite college team of all time…still breaks my heart everytime I see Web call that time out….great memories though.

  • SWAT

    @life did u watch the show last nite? These guys were a movement. 5 freshman starting and killing it, sadly jus couldn’t win it all. I was crackin up whn jalen was talkin about how he needed a fade during an interview. Nobody wantd to see these guys on the court bcuz to the mass media it seemed as though they were playin streetball. Thr was no and 1 tour back then and no damn internet-america and the burbs had no idea wht to make of the guys.

  • SWAT

    and man did y’all see bill walton talkin shit? “These guys are exactly whts wrong with college basketball” thn someone askd him why he thought tht and he couldn’t give a good answer…u kno he really wantd to say bcuz they were black. A damn good article and a great documentary last nite.

  • http://www.opposingviews.com/i/like-the-original-fab-five-30-for-30-special-comes-up-short Alex Groberman

    It’s hard to speak on yesterday’s show without offending people, apparently.

    Because I’m tired of getting into debates with folks on the topic I’ll keep it simple:

    It’s hard to believe that when everyone getting paid off by Ed Martin was pocketing 70K+ all Jalen was getting was a bit of pocket change. Especially considering the level of talent he had.

    The whole thing seemed like a self-made tribute to themselves. It was shot well, and directed well, but it was filled with THEIR version of what happened.

    They were a movement, and they were cool, but I would’ve love to see the “real” story behind the Fab Five done by an outside party.

    There was a reason C. Webb didn’t participate. Just saying.

  • http://recoverthegospel.com Eddie

    One thing that blew my mind when I saw it yesterday was the “behind the scenes” footage of how Chris could have actually been confused about the time out because of some of the people on the bench. I never knew that. Your heart goes out to that dude. That footage never seen the light of day. It adds a whole new perspective to what happened. It was almost some JFK/shooter on the grassy knoll type stuff. EXCELLENT documentary.

  • Blk Caesar

    @Alex Groberman.. every story about the Fab Five until last night was done by an outside party.. Ever read Mitch Albom’s book? Watch the Sportscentury or Beyond the Game pieces on them??? This was finally the actual team members minus CWebb telling their story. The one “real” story that should finally be told is that of UCLA, John Wooden and booster Sam Gilbert. 5 freshmen starting and playing for the National Title and then coming back as sophomores.. Has not been done since..

  • Dre

    Exactly Blk Ceasar… Alex, why can’t they tell their version? Everyone else told their version of what they thought they Fab 5 was about except them. Who would no better than them? They revolutionalized college basketball for sure. I am a UNC fan and I can tell you I still enjoyed what they did. C. Webb got the absolute worse of the allegations. I know people that were at Michigan during that time that said they drove around in a bucket of a car all piled up together. They had no jewelry or fance gear. What were they doing with all that money… eating it?

  • JAY

    To the people wondering what’s the big deal with the Fab 5… 5 starting freshmen and were one of the nations best teams. 4 top ten high schoolers, and a top 100 player. If anyone can name another team who can claim the same thing, then I’ll agree they shouldn’t be a big deal.

    @Alex, wouldn’t you want to tell your side of the story if a ton of publications were writing about you and getting information either wrong or misleading? Wouldn’t you feel like your side is being missed and it deserves to be told?? If you were part of something historical, don’t you think you should deserve to have a say?

    You wrote this like it was something negative –> “but it was filled with THEIR version of what happened.”

    IMO, So?

  • The Goods

    It was brilliantly done. I was extremely impressed by Jimmy King and Jalen, both gave incredible insight into the entire experience and fallout of being shunned by the university. Love them or hate them, they were an absolute movement and inspired a generation of young ball players.

    I have enough into the Ed Martin scandal to understand the fallout and lay a very fair amount of equal blame across the board to all parties involved. It was very sad that Chris was not involved, but I can understand his feelings, yet after educating myself on the Ed Martin scandal I do not see him as being an innocent party.

    Growing up these guys were my absolute favorite group next to the Bulls, how could they not be? They were larger than life.

  • JAY

    @ Alex: “It’s hard to speak on yesterday’s show without offending people, apparently.”

    ^ ^ I was wondering why you started your post with that line… then I read your editorial in your link. You don’t know why that “article” is offensive?? Here’s one sentence that stood out.

    “The good folks at Duke probably shared a similar ideology about the thugs from Michigan.”

    You call Jalen Rose “racist” but say ^ ^ THAT? Why do you call the Dukies “good folks” and these Michigan players “thugs”. Did they have a criminal record? Were they always running into issues with law-enforcement? Or is it because they were outspoken young black men who talked a little smack? I seriously want to know why you chose those words for Duke and the Fab 5. I read your response to one of the guys who posted in your article… “Maybe because the Fab Five themselves used the word “thugs” when describing how Duke probably saw them?”
    What words did Jalen use to describe Dukies again… was it Uncle Toms? But you went with “the good folks”. WTF is that?