by Ryan Meehan
Sunday Night I caught the repeat of ESPN’s critically acclaimed series “30 for 30”. The episode focused on Michigan’s famous “Fab Five”, the first team ever to start all five freshman on a college basketball team.
As a Michigan State fan, I’m bred to hate Michigan, but I had to check this one out because it was so fascinating to me. The Fab five had an undeniable influence on the way basketball is played today. They were the initial purveyors of the hip hop attitude, and the baggy shorts amongst university basketball players.
The film begins by showing some of the regions that the players grew up in, and suffice to say they weren’t exactly born with silver spoons in their mouths. They all came from rough areas in stark contrast to Grant Hill and a lot of the other white players that were popular in college basketball at the time. Although heavily recruited, they weren’t given the cars and all of the other stuff that the guys get nowadays.
It then goes on to detail their rise to the top during their first year. They lost the national championship to Duke that year but they cemented themselves as one of the most charismatic basketball teams in history. People who didn’t even like Michigan were tuning in to see games all over the country, and the Wolverines were giving them a reason to do so.
The segment about the following year was even better because of Jalen Rose’s arrest. Jalen was found playing video games in a house in the Detroit area that had been used to traffic narcotics. They raided it on a Sunday morning and Jalen and his friend were still up so it looked a lot worse than it probably was. There were rocks in the house and it was just an awful scene. Although Jalen didn’t have anything on him, he did have a game against Illinois in champaign just a few days later, and the fans there were brutal. Instead of folding like a chair Bobby Knight would throw, Rose went out there and fucking lit the Illini up and Michigan left their house with a W.
The biggest part of this film for me was my re-education of just how good Rose was. That Illinois game was almost legendary, and because of Jalen’s current analyst position, we tend to view him as a bit of a boner. And I wouldn’t necessarily not put myself in that category. But how soon we forget all of the trash talking and everything that made him such an integral part of that team.
Obviously, there was a lot of focus on Chris Webber’s mistakenly called timeout during the NCAA Final in 1993 against the North Carolina Tar Heels. It’s one of the biggest blunders in the history of sports, right up there with Bill Buckner’s error and the continued existence of the Detroit Lions franchise after 1960. I wasn’t quite aware of the fact that there were clearly a couple of other players on the sideline urging him to call the timeout that they didn’t have.
RC made the point yesterday that Webber was never really the same after that, and I think he’s right. He never won an NCAA title, and never won an NBA title either. (He should have in 2002, but that’s a completely different article.) But for those two years he was a beast like no other.
Overall Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Only thing that was really missing was Webber, but I do understand his unwillingness to participate because it was such a difficult thing that he never got over. The end of the film focused on the perjury charges that Webber was indicted on. I don’t want to go into anymore detail because it’s a very thought provoking ending and I want everybody to take advantage of catching the repeat of this film. It’s a classic for any true basketball fan.
I’m looking forward to more of these documentaries and it will be very interesting to see where the series goes next.
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