March 09, 2011
Almost two decades after they last suited up for a game together in their trademark black socks, black shoes and baggy yellow shorts, Michigan's Fab Five still has the ability to command headlines.
Sunday's debut of ESPN's all-inclusive documentary "The Fab Five" has generated buzz from coast-to-coast, especially after the network aired a clip from the movie on Tuesday featuring some inflammatory comments about Duke.
Reflecting on how they felt before the 1992 national title game against the Blue Devils, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson each said they wanted to beat Duke more than any other opponent.
"For me, Duke was personal. I hated Duke and I hated everything I felt Duke stood for," Rose said in the film. "Schools like Duke didn't recruit players like me. I felt like they only recruited black players that were Uncle Toms."
"The faces of Duke, I didn't like them," King said.
"I hated Duke. I hated Duke," Ray Jackson added.
In an interview with ESPN's "First Take" on Tuesday, Rose clarified that his comments were how he felt as an 18-year-old, but he didn't back off them entirely.
"Certain schools recruit a typical kind of player whether the world admits it or not. And Duke is one of those schools," he said. "They recruit black players from polished families, accomplished families. And that's fine. That's OK. But when you're an inner-city kid playing in a public school league, you know that certain schools aren't going to recruit you. That's one. And I'm OK with it. That's how I felt as an 18-year-old kid."
A phone call to Duke on Wednesday afternoon seeking a response to Rose's criticism was not immediately returned.
The jabs at Duke are just one of the intriguing elements of what's being billed as the most candid and thorough look at the Fab Five that has ever been produced. The 100-minute documentary also touches on everything from the Ed Martin scandal, to Ray Jackson talking about being "the fifth wheel," to the cultural impact of one of college basketball's most famous teams.
Since Rose helped produce the documentary for ESPN, it features nearly every principal and periphery figure in the Fab Five's rise except one: Chris Webber. Rose told the Detroit Free Press that he and his former teammates tried several times to persuade Webber to sit for an interview with no success.
"It was more than one swing at him [participating], it was the whole Detroit Tigers' up-and-down-the-lineup worth of swings," Rose said.
Even without Webber's presence, however, the documentary should be gripping TV.
Rose has hyped the project as the "bible" of the Fab Five. We'll find out Sunday if it lives up to that billing.