ESPN is known for over-hyping sporting events, but typically not for over-hyping their own shows or films. I was surprised to see how many trailers the network was showing for last night’s documentary on Michigan’s Fab 5 — the legendary Michigan men’s basketball team comprised of star freshmen recruits Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson. After tuning in last night, this documentary was definitely a winner (unlike the Fab 5) — another big win for ESPN’s film team after their 30 for 30 series.
The story begins with the formation of this super recruiting class, who ultimately loses both the 1992 and 1993 NCAA national championship games in dramatic fashion. While the group was not successful in bringing an NCAA championship to Michigan, they are almost solely responsible for bringing hip-hop culture, baggy shorts, and a street style of play to mainstream college basketball. Video of these guys is just awesome to watch as well — young Chris Webber in particular was a beast. Of the 5, all but Ray Jackson would reach the NBA with Howard, Webber, and Rose going on to illustrious NBA careers. Juwan Howard is still in the league (a member of the Miami Heat) while Rose ended his career averaging 14 ppg to Webbers 20 ppg. Not too shabby.
The most intriguing aspect of this documentary to me was the Fab 5’s viewpoint of their rival Duke Blue Devils, led by Grant Hill and Christian Laettner, who they refer to as “bitches.” Hill’s privileged upbringing acted as motivation for a young Jalen Rose, who came from a much rougher background. A young cocky Rose provides classic commentary throughout the film, which couples perfectly with Howard’s “we’re going to shock the world!” clip from the 1992 NCAA tournament. This documentary single-handedly made me a Jalen Rose fan (nice bling, FYI). His trash talking is nothing short of phenomenal.
If you’ve got a couple of hours between tournament games this month, you’ve got to check this one out.