Tonight I watched the ESPN 30 for 30: The Fab Five. When I heard that the Fab 5 would be featured in the 30 for 30 series, I couldn't wait to see it. I wasn't going to wait for the replay. I was going to see it on its first run.
I'm not going to fake like Michigan was my favorite team. I am from Ohio, but I will admit to not being a fan of North Carolina. I've always been a Duke fan. Growing up my neighbor, Betty, was an old lady and her dog was named "Duke". I watched Duke play, and I just grew up rooting for Duke. **** Let's be clear, first and foremost I was a Georgetown Hoyas fan. However, Michigan's hold on the basketball universe wasn't until Ewing was already a Knick so I was open to rooting for new teams. In the 90s I'd pick Michigan over any team (i.e. except The Ohio State Buckeyes and Duke).
If you cared at all about college basketball in the early 90s, you need to watch this documentary. Narrated by Taye Diggs with commentary from Ray Jackson, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Jalen Rose the story comes to life. You hear from Coach Fisher, media and a few other people who lend their voice to provide insight as to the style and culture of the times (i.e. Ice Cube). One voice is so absent that it's probably the most obvious and that's the voice of Chris Webber.
We all know what happened. In the 1993 NCAA Championship game against UNC, Chris Webber called time out when he was forced into the corner, over by the Michigan bench. In the documentary you can see that one of the players was signaling for Webber to call timeout. Webber was in the corner thanks to the Tarheel trap and called timeout. **** Ugh, I can't even imagine... Michigan was assessed the technical foul, UNC made both their free throws to win the game, and peoples' lives were never the same.
I tried to embed the following video, but embedding is disabled. If you want to watch the highlights and lowlights of that championship game, here's a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vn-_URq7K04.
The story told in this ESPN 30 for 30 documentary is about more than the timeout. The story is a reflection of the culture in Detroit and the sign of the times. Hip hop and rap music were/are a part of the culture in Detroit. Wolverines no longer wore short shorts. Things as simple as black socks were being copied.
People are afraid of change and unfortunately racism exists. It was shocking for me to see the old letters, clippings, and pictures that were sent to the school, coaches, and players. I'll never understand that degree of hate. To be honest, it saddens me.
Of course, it wouldn't be a great story without tremendous up and downs, and I believe the story was told fairly. Sure there was an NCAA scandal. Yes, there was an investigation. I don't want to minimize any of that. Yes, the banners came down. Of course that's all part of the story and it's told in an interesting manner.
Watch the documentary. Remember the early 90s. Sit in disbelief that Juwan Howard is still in the league and looks better than ever. Jalen Rose's voice is heard on ABC and ESPN, but his personality shines in this documentary. **** If you're not familiar with Jalen's history, read the ESPN The Magazine article (i.e. written by my friend, Jerry Bembry), "The legacy of Jimmy Walker and Jalen Rose". The link is here: http://es.pn/esSIVq for your convenience so you can copy-paste it into a new window.
A couple of my favorite quotes come from Jalen. Here are two quotes. One that made me laugh and another one that struck me.
- "Who wants to go to Europe? It's not Detroit."
- "Tell me who was the starting line up for the Carolina team that beat us."
Jimmy King and Ray Jackson lend their voices to tell their own story, and Coach Fisher has his current success at San Diego State University to focus on as March Madness starts this week. We all know Chris Webber still has that mega-watt smile. His basketball IQ and personality shine on TV for TNT and NBA TV. I just wish I would've heard his voice tonight in the documentary. I'm sure if and when Webber decides he's ready to speak, he'll have an eager audience.
UPDATE (3/16/2011): We have yet to hear from Chris Webber, but we have Grant Hill's response to the comments made about Duke University and himself. Here is a link to the piece that he wrote for the New YorkTimes: http://nyti.ms/hqxfYE. I'd paraphrase his words for you, but I think it's best you read it yourself. Further, according to his Twitter account, "Due to space consideration the NY Times had to edited my response. The full response will be posted on my website www.granthill.com soon".