Last night, the 2010-11 NCAA Men’s Division I basketball bracket was determined, putting one of college sports’ most exciting tournaments in motion again. Yes, March Madness is upon us. ESPN marked the occasion by premiering a documentary about a group of young men, known as the “Fab Five,” who revolutionized college basketball while playing for the University of Michigan.
Jimmy King, Ray Jackson, Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose and Chris Webber constituted the most electrifying and talented freshman class ever recruited. In 1991, these five men changed the game of college hoops with their baggy shorts, black socks, bald heads, trash-talk and swagger. The Fab Five were more than basketball players; they were cultural icons who were often misunderstood and portrayed as evil.
In the film Fab Five, Rose, King, Jackson and Howard relive their ’91 and ’92 seasons as Wolverines, telling their side of the story. As Rose stated in a recent interview, “This is the bible of the Fab Five’s story.” The film, which Rose also executive produced, deals with the formation, rise, scandal and epilogue of the team, including the payment scandal, which led to legal problems for Webber; the removal of the Fab Five’s championship banners from Crisler Arena; and the infamous timeout gaffe at the end of the 1993 national championship game. [Missing from the documentary is Webber, who still refuses to address either subject.]
Love ’em or hate ’em, the Fab Five had an undeniable passion for the game and for winning. Plus, their camaraderie and bonds as teammates were so strong, a player could only dream of belonging to such a special group. After two decades, we’ve yet to see a freshman class as great as the Fab Five. Quite possibly, we never will.
Replays of the Fab Five are currently airing on ESPN.
View ESPN’s video interview about the film with Rose, King and Jackson.