March 14, 2011

The Fab Five Rewind

By - Kris Fletcher

With March Madness officially underway, ESPN picked the perfect time to unveil their two-hour documentary on the Michigan Wolverines Fab Five. The recruitment class that is considered by some to be the greatest ever assembled. I must say, watching the show earlier this evening really brought back some memories.

For those of you that don't know, the class consisted of Detroit natives Chris Webber and Jalen Rose, Chicago native Juwan Howard and Texas high school stars Jimmy King and Ray Jackson. As high school players, all five were rated in the top 100 of high school prospects in 1991.

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Despite all their talent, the Fab Five never won a championship. They did however reach the title game twice. As freshman in 1992, where they lost to the Christian Laettner-led Duke Blue Devils by a final of 71-51, and again as sophomores in 1993, falling to the North Carolina Tar Heels 77-71. A game remembered in large part due to a timeout Chris Webber called in the closing seconds with the Wolverines trailing by two. A timeout they didn't have.

While they may have never won a title, they certainly left a mark on the game of basketball itself. They became pioneers in bringing a hip-hop style to the game with their long baggy shorts, shaved heads, trash talk, black socks and black shoes. The game had never seen the likes of what the Fab Five brought to the table.

I remember being 15 years old and watching these guys play. I vividly remember thinking how much different they were than any other players I'd seen before. They basically started a basketball revolution that's still being felt even today.

Four of the five went on to play in the NBA, with Ray Jackson being the only one that didn't. Chris Webber went on to be a five-time All-Star over the course of his fifteen year career. Jalen Rose emerged as one of the top small forwards in the league between 1999 and 2003 and led the Indiana Pacers in scoring in 2000, the year they won the Eastern Conference. Juwan Howard, a one-time All-Star himself, is also the only one of the group still active in the NBA today. He currently plays for the Miami Heat. Jimmy King played in a total of 64 games in two seasons with the Toronto Raptors and Denver Nuggets, then retired following the 1996-97 season. No member of the Fab Five has ever won an NBA Championship.

Kinda hard to believe that nearly 20 years have went by since these guys burst onto the scene. If you get some down time between all the NCAA Tournament games over the next few weeks, I highly recommend checking out the ESPN documentary. If you're a true basketball enthusiast, it will no doubt bring back some memories for you as well.

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