Last night I watched ESPN’s outstanding documentary The Fab Five. Here’s some random observations on the breakthrough Wolverines who shaped everything after them while scaring the bejezzus out of everyone in their path:
-Chris Webber was a man child in college. Absolutely vicious. I remember how much hype he had his rookie year in the NBA and when you watch footage of him as an 18 and 19 year old ballplayer, he was downright terrifying. It seemed like the first Modell’s we ever had in South Philly carried every jersey C Webb wore from 1992-1995: the blue and yellow #4 Michigan jerseys, the Golden State uni that only lasted for a year and a half, and finally the kinda meh #2 Washington Bullets jersey. He was like Shawn Kemp and Blake Griffin in terms of ability, hype, and marketability to kids. By the time he ended up on the Sixers in 2005, he was a $20mill jump shooter on bad knees who could post one 20/10 a week. But good Lord…he was downright scary at Michigan.
-One of my buddies growing up in South Philly was the biggest Jalen Rose stan you’d ever meet. He had a Fab 5 Jalen jersey and a #5 Denver Nuggets jersey immediately after he was drafted. His fandom was so strong that I ended up gravitating towards Jalen during the Fab 5’s soph year and ended up rooting for Jalen in the pros. I never thought about how mentally tough Jalen was in college; he points out in the documentary that in those days, if you had a tattoo people thought you were a thug or in a gang, if you had a baldhead you were insane, and anybody wearing black socks were 70 year old mail carriers. Jalen wore all three, almost purposely putting himself and the guys under the crosshairs for ridicule by the stuffy pundits and whitebred Michigan alum.
-20 years later, when asked about their thoughts on Christian Laettner, four of the 5 guys said he was “soft”, “a bitch”, and a “pussy”. I laughed out loud on my couch. Laettner stays losing.
-Ghetto Boys, Compton’s Most Wanted, Ice Cube, EPMD, Public Enemy–that was contemporary rap music to college kids in the early 90’s. Today, Dwight Howard smiles and does the Dougie.
-Did you know Juwan Howard has made over $150mill in the NBA over 17 seasons? Career achievements: 1 All-Star team (1996), All-Rookie 2nd team (1995), All-NBA Third Team (1996). Now that he’s on the Heat, he should pour Pat Riley’s coffee everyday for overvaluing him by a good $50mill during the ’96 offseason when the Heat tried signing him to a $100mill deal which was rejected by the league since the deal would put them over the cap. The Washington Bullets decided to throw in a pound and signed Juwan to a 7 year $105 mill deal instead. It reminds me of the $1mill advances given to Shyne and Papoose —wait, you gave THAT guy that much bread?
–Among the top 50 eligible high school recruits in 1992 alongside the Fab Five were Lamond Murray, Donyell Marshall, and Calbert Chaney. That same Modell’s in South Philly that was flush with Webber jerseys in 1993 also sold #42 UConn Donyell Marshall jerseys. I don’t know why, but I owned one.
-It’s crazy that at 6’5” 210 lbs. Jimmy King never caught on as a good role player in the NBA, though he was traded once for Popeye Jones.
-What did the Fab Five call their rivals at Ohio State? THEE Ohio State Fuckeyes.
-When Heltah Skeltah and OGC toyed with the idea of forming a supergroup known as The Fab 5 around the time of each group’s debuts on Duck Down, their styles and personalities perfectly matched up with their ballin’ counterparts
Rockness Monstah was Chris Webber at the 5, the most dominant skillset and charisma. Ruck/Sean Price was Juwan Howard at the 4, less flashy but steady and the perfect #2 option. Starang was Jalen Rose at the 1, brash, cocksure, trashtalker (Jalen terrorized any and all on the court while Starang took shots at Biggie), and never became the superstar he was pegged to be. Louievilla Sluggah was Jimmy King at the 2, moments of pizzazz here and there, probably a bigger force elsewhere, an underwhelming career that no one felt too bad about. And Top Dog was Ray Jackson at the 3. Ray had a solid CBA career and was lucky to be a part of a bigger entity that has lasted the test of time. Like Top Dog, he was the least talented in the squad but he thankfully never referred to himself as “The Big Kahuna”, an alias for Top Dog and Frankie Avalon.
The Fab 5 “Leflaur Leflah Eshkoshka”
Flashback to 1991: ESPN Introduces the Fab Five