His and any other "basketball purest's" opinion means as much as my opinion of their outdated views on basketball and how it should be played....you guessed it....zip.
The Man Who Wasn't There
I don't actually have many memories of the Fab Five on the court. I remember being utterly heartsick when Webber called that timeout. That moment is undoubtedly the genesis of my obsession with rules that suck and should be changed*. I remember hating that technical when the ref could have just ignored it and left Webber to figure it out himself.
I also remember a black t-shirt I had commemorating the '92 Final Four, but incompletely. I know Cincinnati was on the shirt. I had to look up the other two teams, look up that Michigan beat the Bearcats in the semi before losing to Duke, look up the fact that Michigan was just a six seed. I remember the shirt being embroidered, because that's what happened in 1992 when you wanted something fancy. It was scratchy. I loved it.
I've got the heartsick and the shirt; everything else has melted away. When Wolverine Historian posted one of their games against Illinois I watched it and was stunned by… well, everything. A stone-cold packed Crisler full of people losing their minds. The helter-skelter nature of the game on both ends. Michigan—Michigan!—having a bunch of defiant, ruckus-raising black guys Jim Nantz remains terrified of to this day.
That is not the equilibrium state of Michigan basketball. That does not come from Earth. It comes from a planet with a green sun and marshmallow donkeys.
Later I remember loathing Chris Webber. Years and years had passed and Webber was on a very good Sacramento Kings team playing the Lakers in the conference finals. Sacramento had just gotten legendarily boned in game six. I remember watching game seven smugly, thinking Webber was born to fail in the moment of truth as he clanged threes and the Kings evaporated.
Anyone with a soul roots against the Lakers for the same reason they root against the Yankees. Sacramento had just suffered through a game that Tim Donaughy could point to years later as an example of a fix only to have obsessives like Bill Simmons say "tell me something I don't know." My loathing for Webber overcame all.
Some years later Webber was a trade-deadline acquisition for the Pistons during the period when the Billups/Prince/Hamilton/McDyess core still had my full attention. I was unhappy with it but dealt. I watched Chris Webber play basketball again. By that point he had suffered a variety of injuries that left him barely able to jump. He was useless defensively, an old man devoid of the thunderous athleticism that I assumed must have been part and parcel of why he was so good in college, the #1 pick in the draft, etc. By all rights he should have been out of the league already. Like Shawn Kemp, basically.
The reason he wasn't was his passing. Someone who paid more attention to the NBA than I did or wasn't 14 the last time he saw Webber play much already knew this. I didn't. I knew Chris Webber, though. I knew he was a liar and a choker and not very smart and just a general all-around jerk who wouldn't even apologize. I knew the Fab Five was just a bunch of guys who played schoolyard basketball because they were so outrageously better than everyone they could get away with it.
I knew Chris Webber until I watched him play. He dropped passes in spaces that didn't exist until he saw them. He hit cutters that didn't know they were open until the ball was in their hands. He was brilliant despite having the athleticism of Artie Lang. He was incredible fun. Despite myself I really liked watching Chris Webber play basketball, and now I don't think I know one thing about him.
To say Michigan has done a 180 in re: the cultural alignment of their basketball team understates things despite that being axiomatically impossible. The old ringleader just called black guys at Duke "Uncle Toms"; the new one is from Chesterton, Indiana, and once knew 62 digits of pi. After Michigan completed its season sweep of MSU the most desperate, laughable assertion I came across from some guy on an MSU message board was that Michigan had "thugs" on its team, an accusation that would have been uncomfortable during the Fab Five era and literally true when Ellerbe was running things into the ground.
Webber's been banned and feels repudiated and people feel free to demand an apology from him before he even thinks about setting foot in Crisler again, so I get why he doesn't feel like he owes anyone anything. If he wouldn't talk to Jalen Rose for his documentary, it's hard to believe he'll actually "tell his side soon" as he hoped on twitter.
This is immensely disappointing to me. I don't hate him any more and don't care about apologies, don't care about the crater he is often blamed for no matter how little input he had on hiring Ellerbe**. I'd just like to know every last detail of what happened.
Because I don't understand Jalen Rose, don't understand Webber, don't understand the lady in the gas station on the South Side of Chicago I asked directions of who responded "I don't know about any damn directions." I do understand the visceral thrill of those bald heads and black socks, but only vicariously, like a kid from Troy buying an NWA cassette. I can't say why I thought Jim Nantz's obviously racist distaste for the Fab Five was obviously racist, but I had a Nantz-like reaction to that lady in Chicago. I understand why my fiancée continually mishears Duke's mascot as the "white devils" and simultaneously have less than zero sympathy for Robert Traylor and would want to punch him in the face if I ever met him and he was tied to a rock and he had no idea who I was and I could definitely run away before he got loose.
Webber's redemption never happened with him or Taylor or Bullock, and while Bullock was from some suburb in Maryland and cannot be redeemed—seriously, he can die in a fire for all I care—maybe if Chris Webber said something brutally honest it would help me be less confused and sad about Michigan basketball in the 90s, and maybe a bunch of other things of greater significance.
It bothers me that Michigan's response to the NCAA scandal was to go from culturally black enough to have Ice Cube in your documentary to Duke Lite, but goddammit I also wanted some directions. I want Chris Webber to gently untie this Gordian knot in an hour-long interview on national television. When he's done the pieces will assemble themselves into a butterfly with big ears and a huge assist rate. This is the least he can do for 13-year-old me and my embroidered Final Four t-shirt. Thanks in advance.
- Timeouts in basketball. There should be one, period, like in hockey.
- The NHL rule where flipping the puck into the stands from your own zone is a penalty. It should be handled like icing, which is what the NCAA does.
- Hockey offsides is brutal. Widen the line to reduce whistles.
**[Tom Goss, not Ed Martin, is the man who killed Michigan basketball.]
I don't think he liked them - or at least, he didn't like their trash talking. It came up in Mitch Albom's book.
It didn't have to be as black and white (no pun intended) as the film made it sound. A lot of older alumni generally liked the Fab Five but thought they got too carried away at times, which is a fair criticism.
And I'm hardly freaked out by black players, OMG!, acting black.
I loved watching the Fab Five, but they often went way overboard with the trash talking to the point where it looked like they were losing focus on the game. Yes Jalen was the worst.
I would also get pissed at them jacking up three-bricks (some things never change) after only one pass. Yes Jalen was the worst.
Some of the racist stuff undoutably happened, but it was way overblown for the documentary. The Fab Five in general were treated like rock stars.
the racist stuff was absolutely, no-question a major aspect of this period, both overt and covert. i happened to be at breslin during one of the fab five visits...i'm no prude, i've heard it all and said even more, but the state student section was the most offensive, ignorant, low-class thing i have ever seen in my life, bar none. this was not just "you suck" chants, it was a kid with blackface and a dress with a fake baby bump laughing about how he was juwan's girlfriend from back home and other kids shouting "nigger" at the top of their lungs. way, way worse than anything i ever saw at my one visit to ohio stadium (and that was BAD)
really, really offensive, gag-inducing, depressing stuff. i didn't blame the players one bit for giving it back every second they were out there...i wouldn't have blamed them for going into the stands, actually.
I was only speaking about our own fanbase. Opposing fanbases were merciless.
He was brutal, especially the second year.
Nd as pointed out, still is, just crapped all over them during the game Saturday.
I always felt like Packer would have run the guys over with his car if he got the chance.
Nantz--the oldest 50-year-old in America--certainly loves him some Augusta, but never any Fab 5, as he confirmed once again on Saturday. And he didn't let any facts get in the way.
The thing people forget about Chris Webber is that he was a superstar even coming into high school. He was living in that bubble as early as 14 years old. Expectations being heaped upon him, everybody telling him he was going to be the greatest player ever, etc. He was LeBron James before there was a LeBron James. Chris never really lived up to those expectations the way LeBron has, but when he was at Country Day and Michigan it certainly looked like he was on his way, but it never really panned out for him at the pro level.
None of us can ever come close to understanding what that does to a person psychologically, and I think Webber is a guy who was never all that comfortable with the limelight, not in the way guys like Jalen or Juwan were. So I'm willing to give Chris a little understanding when he doesn't respond to the criticism of the Michigan faithful the way we feel he should. I, for one, would like to seem him welcomed back into the fold. I don't know if we'll ever be able to raise those banners again, but we can still honor those 5 players who for a brief moment in time made Michigan one of the elite basketball programs in the country.
does not mean he did not live up to expectations.
He played for a NC in college as a Freshman, then again as only a Sophomore. He carried a pro team on his back for years. He was that franchise.
He indeed lived up to the hype.
I agree whole-heartedly with the posters that say C-Webb's ranting about the injustices of the NCAA miss the point.
Yes, the rules are unjust. We all agree. But at the end of the day, U of M was left holding the bag for C-Webb's decision to break those rules (and U of M deserved to hold that bag, given that they went all ostrich on the UMBB team for the better part of a decade).
To focus on the injustice of the rules alone is the easy thing to do. Acknowledging the consequences of violating said unjust rules takes a lot of maturity. I still hope C Webb shows that maturity. As I said above, not because he "has to" - because it'd be really, really cool.
A few thoughts from a Michigan fan who was a junior and senior during the Fab Five era.
-I had a history class with all five the second semester of their freshman year. Despite the swagger, they were pretty reserved, at least in this class. The class that followed the blow-out loss to Duke in the Finals, all eyes were on them as they took their seats, of course. This was a pretty small class (maybe 40 students) so it was pretty uncomfortable. Our instructor did a really smart thing to break the silence...he just started clapping, which triggered a long round of applause from everyone in class. The guys finally gave us all a smile, and seemed genuinely humbled by it.
-In the pre-internet days, pretty much all we had was ESPN, SI, and the Detroit media for sports coverage. During those two seasons, it was all-Michigan, all the time. I don't think any Duke basketball team, or USC football team, ever reached that level of unanimous obsession (both for and against) among sports media.
-I watched the UNC game in a house on Church with about 15 other guys, all crowded around what back then was considered a "big-screen TV." It was one of those from-my-parent's-basement-wood-cabinet monstrosities that at best, had a 29 inch screen. Seeing the end of the UNC game last night gave me the exact same sickening, almost helpless feeling I had 18 years ago.
-Out of pity, my wife watched with me last night. She feigns interest in Michigan sports mostly because I have three daughters who don't even pretend to care. I looked over at her during the part when they showed like 2 full minutes of Webber walking to the locker room after the timeout, and she was crying. She's a good woman.
Watched the documentary with my wife as well (similar deal, pretends to like Michigan sports because I'm so obsessed with it - though she's a SE MI native and two-time grad of U of M). At the end of it, I rambled a bit about my conflicted feelings, my nostalgia, and most of all, my deeply contradictory emotions of sadness/excitement when talking about the Fab Five, and she seemed to get it a bit more.
Excellent stuff. One thing that is always overlooked amidst the fashion and bombast of the Fab Five is how they played together. The extra pass, the selfless sacrifices for the good of the team (on the court, obv), and the unselfish setups, hoping for the next guy to get the highlight. They played like best of friends with no agenda other than to win for each other, and it was a beautiful thing to behold. I was in 8th grade when they lost to Carolina, and being the only Michigan fan in my Wisconsin school, was faced with months of 'timeout' gestures from the next day on.
I tossed and turned in bed last night, remembering the heartbreak. The wound is still healing, all these years later. However, all the pain, the turmoil, the sanctions are worth it to me. I wish things had turned out differently, but you can't uncall timeouts and there are no do-overs in grown up life. That said, having something worthy of remembrance, important enough for me to lay awake at night and think about twenty years later, is all I ask from sports. Twenty years from now, I will still remember, whether or not banners hang and Webber is somehow welcomed back to raucous applause at Crisler.
One thing about Jalen's "Uncle Tom" comment: he said that that was how he viewed Duke's black players 20 years ago, not necessarily how he views them today. He did add that he was surprised how good Laettner turned out to be, and that he considered them a worthy champ in 1992. Also, he's founded a charter school in Detroit. I imagine he wouldn't be sad if a kid from there ended up at U-M.
Dammit, Brian is the best. When I lack the skills to explain why I'm hurting so much after watching a game on TV, I just pull out one of these pieces.
One day soon, we will wake up on the fourth Monday in November to a victory column, and it may be the greatest thing I will ever read.
That 's true for the casual fan and I had forgotten Brian Reese until watching the doc last night. I did, however always remember Donald Williams who had the best weekend of his life in that Final Four. Bad timing for us. We'd handled them earlier in the year in Hawaii.
I graduated from Undergrad at UM in 1989 so i am a peer of Rice, Robinson, et al. But i do remember the Fab 5 and like most from that period, am probably "conflicted" (as Brian predicted ahead of time). Mostly, I'm a little upset they didn't really win any championships (no BT's, no National Champs) and that pain still lingers.
I won't go into all the back and forth, i think that's been well debated in all the comments today. However, one minor point that i do think the doc didn't quite play up enough was the "supporting cast." They did make the point of people being upset about losing their job to freshmen, etc., but there were a few notable times when the supporting cast saved their asses on the court, and they didn't relly mention that. IIRC, Voskul played a huge role down the stretch in beating Cincy in the first Final Four and Pelinka made many clutch threes (and was on the court during Web's unfortunate TO call).
about the Michigan basketball team. It was a doc about the Fab Five.
How often do you hear the names John Paxson and Steve Kerr when you watch something about Michael Jordan?
my point there was that part of the interesting story of the Fab 5 was that they were actually quite inconsistent on the court (as some pointed out) and despite their swagger, they needed the "nobodies" to save them on a few notable, high profile moments.
Not a huge criticism, just a minor point that i always found interesting.
We were able to get Howard to come to U of M (which sort of was the key to the Fab Five in total) because Illinois- his early preferred choice - was under investigation for violations.
In other words, THANKS BRUCE PEARL!
That's an easy name for me to remember: Knight, among others, hated him for what he (accurately) perceived to be a shady way of handling things in Champaign.
Ironically, Henson eventually moved on to New Mexico State to replace a coach they fired for cratering their program (essentially at the same time that this whole thing was going down) ...
No, he means "Thanks Bruce Pearl."
For those who don't know, Pearl first came to public consciousness as an Iowa assistant under Tom Davis when he secretely recorded Illinois assistant Jimmy Collins offering cash to a recruit and then turned the tapes into the NCAA. That's what basically brought down Lou Henson.
madhouse, joyous, pure love
this post means a lot to me. my first memory of really anything between my father and i is the both of us on our knees in front of the tv watching R. Robinson hit those two free throws. i was six. i don't know why i was on my knees, i don't know why my fingers were crossed, i was introuced into a world of shadow signs and symbols, i didn't know what it meant to win, but i felt it, and i have never stopped feeling like that child. watching the maize and blue.
when i came to consciousness, completely, when i GOT IT, it was during the Fab Five Era. I was in the fifth grade. i grew up with that team. i loved them with an absurd passion, i cried when they lost. tore at my hair. gnashed what little teeth i had. i think of the name calbert cheaney and shudder. I hate UNC, I hate Duke. I mean I really hate those bastards.
for good or ill, webber is michigan to me. he is my favorite player of all time. i can't help but feel his efforts are somehow tied up with mine. he's assumed some strange metaphoric presence in my consciousness. i had always said to myself, if webber can win a championship...but alas. he now seems more a sort of sisyphus, the mistakes in the periphery, the finger just grazing horry's threepoint shot in the forefront, representative entirely of what i think it feels like to be a michigan fan....always so close.
i don't know what else to add. you said it all. i just wanna say thanks. this post is amazing. this is why i'm on this site multiple times a day.
Because if you hadn't he would have missed the free throws. Every kid knows sitting the same way every game determines winning or losing. I mean, duh.
Oh, and thanks for straining the knees and fingers so we could raise the banner. ;-)
"When i came to consciousness, completely, when i GOT IT, it was during the Fab Five Era."
So so true for me and I'm sure quite a few others. It's hard to put into words what they meant to us kids at the time. The fact that they really transcended basketball into American culture as a whole had a major impact on my development.
I admire Chris Webber. I think he is a smart, kind person. When he was doing his community service in Michigan, my mother, a short little white lady from Flint, ran the educational component with him; he was nothing but a gentleman with her and treated her with respect at all times. He was serious about education and his commitment to the community. While most people in sports seem to spend their money on superficial nonsense, he built an incredibly impressive collection of African American historical objects...
...to accompany his probably massive collection of superficial objects. But still.
I went to Michigan with The Fab Five. They gave us all swagger; growing up in Flint, home of so many great basketball players (including Glenn Rice and Eric Turner), these guys felt like real players I had grown up with. I think they were great and yes, the money, and yes, the fashion, but also, pride and reality.
It is easy to forget, but this was a strange time in Ann Arbor. It was the time of the birth of the political correctness debate on campuses around the country; identity was a huge topic in class, Affirmative Action was debated constantly, there were racial epithets still being slipped under dorm room doors, with mandatory "diversity" studies classes (is that still going on?); it seems to me race was ( and probably still is?) something real at Michigan. The first time I ever heard the N word dropped as a pejorative, live and in person, was at the IM Building in Ann Arbor playing a pick up game in 1990. My dining room in my dorm was essentially segregated which, coming from a very integrated High School, was something I was not used to at all. You had kids (and probably still do) coming to school who had never lived with people of color.
So, for me, The Fab Five felt like a much-needed "f-you" to all of that. It felt good to have these guys, FRESHMEN, just killing it. We were coming off of the 1989 Championship and it felt like a dynasty in the making, like the program would stay on top forever. For me, this was a definitive sporting moment; watching Michigan basketball in the subsequent years has made me shrug my shoulders and wonder why the program didn't handle the probation in a better way; you can keep the swagger, just do it the right way. Cest la vie; the institution seems to struggle with change and cultural shifts in some ways. After The Fab Five, Gratz v Bollinger hit the state and federal courts, and the University's system for Affirmative Action was declared Unconstitutional; race and the 1990's at Michigan was a complicated thing.
Anyway, that provides no answers, just a feeling I still have that this team was incredibly important for the school in terms of their perception among young people and people of color; it was sort of a first and last hurrah all at once. I loved being there for it, I have no idea if and how much things have changed, but it will always be special for me.
I guess every student will have their own experiences but mine (a few years before yours) in Ann Arbor didn't include any racism. In my dorm 2 Jewish kids had the hell beaten out of them for defending Israel. The game among black females was to threaten their white roommates until they would transfer out of the room and leave them with a single. Never once did I think to paint the University through the prism of either of those wrongs. Assholes are just assholes, it doesn't mean that they are statistically significant.
It was a quite a conflicting time for us Michigan fans.
As Michigan fans, our cultural identity is defined first and foremost by the football team. In football, we pride ourselves on our midwest traditions and cleanliness. We're the guys in the white hats and always have been. We're Bo. We're JoePa. In football we are Duke.
We are perpetually swimming against the tide of the in-your-face cheaters who get an unfair advantage, while we keep our heads down and play by the rules, written and unwritten. We don't identify with USC, the U, the SEC.
I remember an interview with one of the Fab Five the first year they were at Michigan (Jalen, perhaps?). I remember him saying how his favorite team growing up was UNLV, and how one of the saddest days of his sports life was when UNLV lost to Duke in the Final Four. I thought to myself, "Huh? What? Tark the Shark, agents in hot tubs, thugs in shorts? UNLV?? Doesn't he know that we are Michigan? We're the good guys in the white hats. We don't identify with cheaters and criminals."
Needless to say, the Fab Five was a shock to the system. They were just so different than our ingrained football identity. The football team was solid, consistent, reliable, but never spectacular. A B+ every year. Never a C, but never an A+ either.
The Fab Five were so unlike us. Yet they were ours.
They we're wild and flashy. They were maddeningly inconsistent. They weren't disciplined enough through a long season to ever get near a Big Ten championship. Yet when it became showtime on the big stage, they took it to another level. You were always in fear of them imploding, but until then they were stars.
As a long time Michigan fan, I was shaped by the cultural identity of the football team. I was a Bo traditionalist, straight and narrow. But I have to admit, I found the Fab Five exhilarating. So this is what it was like to be on the other side. This is what it's like to be USC in the Rose Bowl, to be Miami in the National Championship. This is what it's like to have flash and style and to get by on sheer talent while everyone else tried to muddle through with hard work and fundamentals and discipline.
I knew in the long run it was not good for me, but it was an irresistible fling at the time. I was not surprised in any way shape or form the way it turned out, only that it did not happen sooner.
I feel a bit hypocritical. By rights, I should be ashamed by the Fab Five era, just as I think UNLV should be ashamed by the Tark era. But I'm not. I look back on it fondly. It was refreshing to be the dangerous team.
Now we are back on the straight and narrow, but we can always brag to the young'ens about how we once had a wild side.
"By rights, I should be ashamed by the Fab Five era, just as I think UNLV should be ashamed by the Tark era. But I'm not. I look back on it fondly. It was refreshing to be the dangerous team. "
Sums up my thoughts exactly. Now years later I'm left with just the memories of the pleasure of watching their games. I can only applaud them, the visceral thrill of having watched them was worth everything that followed.
MDog, you are so right.
All this whining about how the Fab 5 ruined Michigan basketball and they owe us something. Seriously?
The thing about the Fab 5 is that they really weren't about The University of Michigan. They could have been anywhere (except Duke I suppose). The fact that these guys converged in Ann Arbor was dumb luck. And the thing is, those of us paying attention at the time (ie were older than 13 and actually had some perspective on college ball and Michigan hoops specifically), we all kind of understood that. We're used to our football players towing the company line about Bo and tradition and the Big House yada yada yada. But these guys didn't talk about Michigan. Because, really, what was there to talk about? We had a surprise run in 1989. Ok. What else? Where was the tradition (and please don't say Cazzie Russell) that drew the Fab 5 to Michigan specifically? It wasn't there. They came to Michigan to be with each other. Juwan wakes up on a different side of the pillow one day and it could have been Illinois or Michigan State or North Carolina or any number of other schools.
The fab 5 were always about....The Fab 5. We loved them because, well, they were unbelievably entertaining and they allowed us to hang with the cool kids. And it was fun to be the anti-hero for a while, especially when the hero was Duke.
They were a juggernaut, phenomenon, pick your superlative, that had took our great U along for the ride for a few years (and, btw, make MILLIONS of dollars). They weren't Michigan basketball. They were The Fab 5. They owe us nothing.
They were great on the court and that's how we remember them. If you think making it to 2 straight title games isn't great, then I'd hate for you to judge even our current program. Place yourself in Webber's situation and you're taking the money somewhere close to 100% of the time.
Place yourself in Webber's shoes. Poor Chris and growing up poor. Poor kids who don't know their fathers. Poor kids whose parents work 60 hour weeks so they can have their sailboats and fast cars. Poor kids who have mayonaise sandwiches. Poor kids who have to ride a public bus to school. Poor kids whose parents are illegal and yet take all sorts of gov't benefits without having to show one form of ID while for me to get anything gov't or non-gov't in everyday life I better have two forms of ID.
We've raised the better part of two generations of entitled, lazy, spoiled brats who can't balance checkbooks, expect to earn over $100k a year when they graduate from college with a degree in social anthropology, think that they should be shown respect while not showing any adults who've earned respect such, and think that they can solve the world's problems when they can't even remember to bring a pencil or piece of paper to class on a daily basis.
People like Mitch Albom have destroyed this country because they make excuses for everyone (well, everyone who agrees with this soft, liberal nonsense). He continues to defend Webber et al only because it serves his purposes. It sell more books, it gets him on documentaries like this. Chris was part of a group of UofM basketball players who got $600k from Ed Martin. All while having the chance to attend a great university and more importantly, being granted two years to improve his skills against inferior competition instead of having to jump to the NBA right after college and hope he could survive against the best in the world at 18. Good luck with that. Michigan gave him two years of valuable developmental time, and if he had lived in a dorm his second year, he wouldn't have been hungry. It's called a meal plan. Chris Webber and the Fab Five exploited Michigan every bit as much as Michigan exploited them.
Steve Fisher and Brian Dutcher knew what was going on. They allowed Martin access. They knew it. They hired Perry Watson who knew Ed Martin. What a joke. I root strongly against Fisher anytime he coaches because if he didn't know it was going on, he's worse of a coach than we ever gave him credit for.
I like Michigan basketball now. They work hard, they do things the right way. I don't care if it's Duke light. Grant Hill took full advantage of his situation and Jalen Rose was an idiot for thinking that he was an Uncle Tom. Those kids work hard for Michigan and I'm proud of them. I don't care if they were to have tattoos, baggy shorts and listen to whatever they wanted to. Go to class, work hard on and off the court and win or lose, act with dignity and respect. That is what I think Amaker and Beilein have brought to Michigan, and it's good.
The Fab Five were talented athletically. They could play great basketball. They understood how to play the game. But as individuals, they were childish and immature and thought the world owed them something. It didn't. And at least one of them, maybe more still need to realize the world doesn't owe them anything.
They were also children.. They all admitted as much in the documentary.
They did me for a similar comment. I completely agree. I was a student from 88-93 so I saw the entire thing. When I was there I loved the Fab 5. I was young. As time went on and the facts came out I started hating it more and more. And then as the university hired Coach B., and the team started growing stronger my feelings became calmer. However seeing that movie Sunday night just brought it all back, and not in a good way. Good riddance to the whole idea. That shouldn't be college sports.
Jalen says that no one remembers the NCAA champs from 3 or 5 or 7 years ago. But everyone remembers the Fab 5. Well Mr. Rose just because you're remembered doesn't mean you were right. People often remember the notorious.
emotional center. If you said why you detested CWebb I'd be willing to contemplate your reasons.
Some dubious racial stuff, too: there is some need to connect a dumb parking lot attendant with the Fab Five because. . . both arouse some vague hysteria in you? You want to place that front and center HERE? Huh.
White people are lucky that way--when they act like assholes they usually just get to be assholes, not white assholes.
the blue line on a hockey rink wouldn't achieve anything. In all cases of offsides, it's the edge of the line that's used
The Fabs did it with defense and rebounding, that's the thing that gets missed.
They were big, strong, long and athletic to be sure, but what set them apart was the degree to which they bought into Fisher's double down scheme, and then pounded the boards. They absolutely were not gonna let you play inside out on them.
They were about as ugly as it gets on offense because there really wasn't an honest outside shooter in the bunch once you got past Juwan from around the free throw line. Sure, Jimmy King and Jalen Rose would take the open shot, but the real game was going on underneath, lots of those shots were about having rebounders in position, make or miss. Everybody on both teams was hanging around the paint most of the game. Webber's inside passing was about the only pretty thing they were capable of.
Then they'd go back to the defensive end and make you look even worse.
Go ahead, throw it in, then watch your big man lob soft passes out to nobody because he couldn't even see over Webber, Howard and Rose.
Go ahead and jack it up there all you want, but start on back to your own end whether it goes or not because one shot is what you get.
It looked helter skelter because they were such a nightmare to have to run your offense against.
One of the greatest defensive teams in the history of Michigan athletics, any sport.
I don't know how much weight we could even give Webber's thoughts on the whole thing now. His track record is one of a total phoney.
Rose, the unquestioned heartbeat of the Fab 5 legacy, came right out and said Webber was totally full of it when he ripped Ed Martin as an exploiter of youth. The guy can't keep it real. Always trying to be something that he isn't.
He doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt and exceptional writing found in Brian's post.
As comment 180 something, I don't know that anyone will ever read this, but here it goes. As I read it, it makes little sense anyway. It is honest, though.
I was at Michigan for the Fab Five. I stormed South U. I bought a pair of Maize Michigan Shorts. I bought a pair of black basketball shoes even though I sucked at the sport. I was there. I loved how talented they were and how they played. I loved that old guys didn't get them. I mean, we were all young and cool and going to take over the world, right? Of course Billy Packard didn't get it - how could he?
I can remember games and who I was with when I saw them. I specifically remember the OT game against Kentuncky when they had to put in some dude with a boy band mustache (Martinez?) to guard Weber and I realized that we had already won.
The relevations and the scnadal came later. By then, I had graduated both undergrad and lawschool. I was working, getting married. I had become a grown-up. The memories of learning about what happened do not belong with college - they are part of what came next.
In short, I have chosen to accept Michigan Fab Five basketball for what it was - great, new, fresh, full of opportunity and excitement. It is part of my college. For me, what came next, happened, but has little bearing on my college years. Maybe I am kidding myself, excusing wrong doing, etc. I probably am. However, those years went by so fast, I have chosen to focus on the good there. If I ever meet Chris Weber, I will thank him for the great memories from college and shake his hand if he is willing. I don't need an apology from him. My memories are mine. Nothing he, or ESPN, can do will take them from me.
Really could not have said it better.
I know virtually everything you can know about them. I came in with them to UM in 1991. Much of my college history is marked with their wins and losses. I also know Chris Webber as a casual friend when he was at Country Day.
I know all he did, illegal as well as legal.
And yet, I can't bring myself to hate him.
After college, I ended up working with Webber on some charity events. No one I can remember gave as much time and money to the city of Detroit as Webber. And still he is hated, for something he basically did as a teenager. Here we are, 20 years later, still prosecuting him for it.
Yes, he should apologize for lying. He should say he should have done better. The University should say they went too far in deleting his history. There should be some closure to the entire episode.
But for me, regardless of what has happened, the Fab 5 will largely bring back good memories, not bad.
This is the first post to receive a "veering into dangerous territory" tag. When you wander into a charged argument, what you say is going to be be judged all the more harshly, and rightfully so.
Now that we're caveat-y, I'm a year younger than you so whatever my memories are I guess take yours and shift one more year of Michigan fandom toward that period in your life when you still got Legos for your birthday.* That's when the Fab Five hit for me, and I took away from them and what follows the same bewilderment. Yet I think you've missed the most profound point about what the Fab Five meant.
When Webber was at Michigan, I was at a suburban middle school where most kids knew the words to "Ice Ice Baby" but little more about Ice Cube than that he exists and might be, um, related to Dr. Dre or something?
By the early '90s, this wasn't your grandpa's all white neighborhood. The Birmingham I grew up in was, in attitude, a post-MLK paradise, a time and place that sired a generation for whom calling somebody "racist" is barely one small step from "facist, genocidal dicator." If that was all it took to get past several centuries of bigotry, segregation and hate, you might have looked at the (lily white) parade of militant pro-multiculturalists and declared win. Conformity is a poor victory -- the kind that can breed resentment, and token characters on TV shows, and people who say retarded shit like "Behind every stereotype there's a kernel of truth," and "I'm a racialist, not a racist."
Because as pleasant as anti-racist Pleasantville may be, it can't stand up to the fact that there's some black dudes who play basketball in a way that the Covington Middle School gym has never seen.
The next step is be able to confront the stereotype, and see past it. And doing so means getting right up in its grill, plus the converse: a Webber slam of reality in your face.
I have the thing on my DVR and I just got home from 10 days in Europe so maybe my mind will change, but I've come to peace with the Fab Five as being something that had to happen, and had to happen at Michigan, for the same reason (around the same era) that someone had to finally make The Program:
It's so Da U, and America's racist image of the Black Athlete could finally go to hell and die.
In ways, the Fab Five embodied that stereotype. They reveled in doing so, from their undisciplined "schoolyard" play to the fashion statements, to the nouveau riche West Egg-ity of a whole class of "stud" freshmen. And they were brought down for the same bag.
This was the stereotype of the black athlete: concerned with looking good, individual accolades and hip hop, but not things like "the team." People love a good stereotype on TV -- think how often you've seen Iverson's "practice" speech, or how many small white guys are compared to David Eckstein -- but when it's in your home, you get uncomfortable. This is because on examination, all stereotypes are a house of cards.
Placed in the costume of Cincy or UNLV the symbolic archetype would be complete. But these men weren't in black. They wore yellow and blue -- the colors of, respectfully, female and male conservatism, and something else that might be considered dinosauric:
There is one process for beating racism and destroying stereotypes. First the parties must invade each others' spaces. This leads to discomfort -- sharp discomfort, because we like easy explanations we can believe in and our brains never let go of a misconception without a fierce fight. On the other hand, you can't live with somebody without seeing any notions of what they're like getting picked to shreds.
With the Fab Five, we all get to see that the differences that make us individuals are actually greater than the differences that make us groups. It wasn't about a slam and an F.U. -- it was about the fact that Jalen and Taylor and Webber are really more different from each other than I might be to any one of them. Whatever world they came from, with its different styles and different rules, it was really no different, no more or less mixed up than mine. For them, the attitude and the shorts were simply identity totems -- as applicable to them as Josh Groban and a stuffed beaver might be the 2010 football team.
College programs didn't wake up one day and realize that Denard Robinson is a lot more like Craig Roh than Terrelle Pryor. It's the reason we could laugh about what's a Fck Lion without feeling like there was an incongruency between an ineloquent lineman and a Lloyd Carr recruit.
The Fab Five didn't end racism, at Michigan, or in the country. Outside of HTTV you couldn't read an article on Demar Dorsey that didn't seethe with the attitude of "well what did you expect..." But they were are remain a little piece, a symbol -- as Jackie Robinson was a national symbol for the black man excelling in the white world, so the Fab Five are a (much smaller) inception for the idea that surface judgment is so much bubkis.
We had to learn that the things that are the loudest are usually the thinnest, but conversely that we make our stereotypes part of our identities. This is way beyond "living together in harmony" -- each human is more or less the same little fucker with varying degrees of 10 attribute sliders, each trying to justify our special snowflakeness within a pool of 6 billion others who are uncomfortably similar to us. Seeing the Fab Five on the court, trying to pull the same identity shit under the home team microscope: this was a moment when you can see the whole network of self-constructed boxes, and how bad of a job they really do of sorting out all the legos.
* Why did this have to end?
Hear motherfuckin' hear.
I'd like to expound but, right now, I'd simply be reiterating.
I am amazed at the anger and hate towards what I consider to be some of the greatest memories of a Michigan fan in my entire life. Really to watch that documentary brought back so many good memories of when Michigan's athletic dept. (Football and basketball) dominated the sports world. Not only did we have the best basketball team in the land, even if they didn't win a championship but we were enjoying a Heisman winner and Desmond Howard and our football team was flourishing.
I was 12 yrs old when the Fab 5 first stepped on the scene and i remember every game vividly. I was a kid from the inner city in Pittsburgh PA who was a Michigan fan before the Fab 5, but they just solidified my fandom even more. Why should we feel disgust at Webber, he played his heart out for this team, he never cheated on the court, he never quit during a game. He did something that many before and after him have done. He is my favorite basketball player of all time and will forever be. He had athleticism that no one his size had shown before. He played the game with a beauty that few have ever played. He wasn't selfish on the court, he wasn't all about him. After the timeout he didn't go in front of the press and say "I heard people telling me to call timeout and that's why i did it" No he took complete blame. And Michigan would not have been even close to winning that game without Webber., he had 23 Points and 11 rebounds in that game and made countless defensive plays. No at 19 he went and faced the press and took it like a man. Am i sad for the way it ended, of course. I hate having those years "technically not exist" But like Jalen said, nobody remembers who won the national championship 3, 5, or 7 years ago. Nobody remebers he guys on the UNC team that beat the Fab 5, but the world knows each and every one of the Fab 5's names. We should feel grateful to been able to be true fans for one of the most amazing movements in basketball history. Remember all the joy that those years brought us. Remember the kids that came to Michigan only because of the Fab 5. The university should be thankful for the money they earned during that time. To sit hear and beat up Chris Webber for something he did when he was 19, to me is simply ridiculous and a waste of time.
And to the trash talk bashers, you don't like trash talk good for you. But the greats have always talked trash. Trash talk isn't meant to demean someone it's to get in someone's head and at the same time pump up you and your team mates. It's a part of our culture, we talk trash with our fathers, our brothers our friends. We talk trash on the basketball court, playing Madden, monoply, anything that involves competition involves trash talking in our culture. I heard people ripping Darius Morris for telling State to get off our court! It's about time someone told them to get off our court. I've been sick to my stomach for years watching them step all over us and have these fake Michigan fans make apologies for why we were losing. It's about time someone brings some Swagger back to Michigan. Woodson had swag, Desmond had swag, Bo had swag.