“The first day the Fab Five stepped on the University of Michigan campus, that was the start of a revolution. It just so happened that this revolution was televised.” – Jalen Rose, The Fab Five
During last night’s dynamic and captivating premiere, I was immediately transported back to a time as a teenager when I wasn’t yet sure who I was, but I knew that I loved the game of basketball. And for anyone around my age, you understand that the Fab Five were something we all paid attention to as middle school players with varsity dreams.
We all loved the shoes, whether it was the Huaraches or the black Flights with the black socks. My freshman year shorts in the fall of 1992 were just like the ones Rose did not want to wear, but unfortunately Steve Fisher was not my head coach, and I had to suffer through the awkwardness of the uniforms in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
From the opening scene featuring the 1989 national champion Michigan Wolverines led by Glen Rice – in what was Fisher’s third week on the job – to how the signing of the Fab Five transpired, I was mesmerized by the footage and sound bites taken from the extensive interviews that were conducted.
Director Jason Hehir did a tremendous job communicating just how genuine this brotherhood immediately became for these five freshman who all went to Ann Arbor with one thing in mind: winning. We are reminded that back then, college basketball was ruled by experienced talent, which explains the champions that came immediately before, during and after the Fab Five. But it was delving deeper into who these young men were at the time, and how the culture around them made them feel.
When faced with their first matchup against Duke in the regular season, Rose and Jimmy King speak candidly about how they felt about certain Duke players, and more specifically about race. As Rose bluntly states when referring to Grant Hill as an African-American athlete whose parents were success stories, “They are who the world accepts; we are who the world hates.”
Learning about what fueled these five athletes to become a team that transformed not just college basketball, but our culture, shows us how powerful the combination of both sport and media can be. The camaraderie between the Fab Five, the coaches and the rest of the team took me back to certain important life experiences as both an athlete and a coach that I sometimes forget on a day-to-day basis.
From the trash talking to the hip-hop, from the scandal that later involved Chris Webber to two of the most memorable journeys to the championship game we have ever seen, ESPN takes us back to a time when barriers were broken, history was made and thankfully then, and now, it was televised.