Posted by: L | March 15, 2011

“30 for 30”: The Fab Five

I’m sure there are conflicting opinions regarding the latest “30 for 30” movie about the Fab Five freshmen who played at Michigan in the early ’90s.  I, for one, definitely enjoyed the piece, as I found it to be fair and educational.  Keep in mind that I was in Kindergarten when these guys emerged onto the scene.

The star of the documentary was Jalen Rose, which was probably intentional, as he was a driving force behind the documentary in the first place.  The movie documented his difficult upbringing, specifically his absentee  NBA father, and how Jalen played the game in his spite.  I felt that his commentary was very candid, and real.  He really held no punches in sharing his feelings: his distain for the “Uncle Tom pussy” that is Grant Hill; and his memories and dismissal of his “crack house” incident, and his ability to overcome the same.  I enjoy his work on ESPN, and I now have a much greater appreciation for him.  It almost makes me forget that he was the epitome of evil when he visited MSG as an Indiana Pacer. Almost.

The missing element of the documentary was commentary by the  true superstar of the bunch, Chris Webber, who refused to participate in the making of the film.  I think that years down the road, he’s really going to regret this.  The movie really portrayed him in multiple different lights.  He was a well-spoken, private school kid from inner-city Detroit, who was also able to interact with his “worse-off” Michigan teammates.  The documentary could also double as a Chris Webber highlight film, as it really showed that he was unlike anyone else in his era.  He could jump, he could shoot, he could dribble, he could pass, and excel at each.  I was physically uncomfortable watching the famous “Time-out” play in the National Championship game, and the foregoing press conference.  Webber’s entire hard-earned legacy was torched by one moment of confusion.  I think he really could have benefited from getting his feelings off his chest.

I also think that it would have served C-Webb well to address the Ed Martin controversy.  He really came off as the villain in that story, as he publicly denounced a man who was dead, and obviously incapable of offering rebuttal.  It was telling, however, that Webber’s teammates still call him a friend, even after the messy incident.  It just shows how strong their bond truly was.

Here are just some random thoughts on the rest of the film:

-Jimmy King’s highlights were surprising, and it showed that he was an important asset to the squad, and didn’t just piggy back on the success and stardom of his teammates.  Not to mention, it is unfortunate that he never panned out in the pro’s, because I think he could have really profited off of his gapped teeth, a la Michael Strahan.

-Juwan Howard used to be black.

-Ray Jackson’s chair toss after the Championship loss to UNC was scary.  I’d be mad too if Eric Montross pushed me around.

-I’ve never heard of a team taking more home movies of themselves.They really made the documentary, and ESPN was lucky that they exist.

– Christian Laettner IS a bitch (A dominant one at that).

-Big time college athletes should be paid.  There is no reason that these guys should be forced to eat cereal for dinner, when the university is profiting so much off of them.  There’s no reason why Chris Webber, the best player in the country, couldn’t afford to fill up his gas tank, yet his shoes were selling for $75 a pair.  Michigan taking down their banners is sad, but I don’t blame the players who took money from boosters, I blame the NCAA for their stupid rules.  More on this debate at another time.

-Back to bank championship games is an unparalleled accomplishment by a team of freshman (and then sophomores), and will never be duplicated, regardless of the fact that they lost.  Jalen Rose is correct, when he said that “you don’t remember the names of all the players on championship teams, but you will always remember the Fab Five.”

-This “30 for 30” has been one of ESPN’s greatest accomplishments and Bill Simmons deserves much credit for its development.

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