I believe we all have things that come into our lives for a reason. Granted, those things didn’t have to come solely for you, but when they come, for whatever reason, they just stick to you. You’re able to relate to whatever it is, for reasons that some can see, or for reasons that are strictly unique to your situation.
Anyone who frequents this site knows that basketball gets a significant amount of run here. Ed is a basketball fan, as am I. Well, Ed prefers the term “aficionado,” but I never really use that word, in real life (he does), so I’ll just stick to fan.
Everything there is about the game, I love: the court, the ball, the basket, sounds of sneakers squeaking on the floor, the talk from players to each other, the crowds; you name it, and I appreciate it. When it comes to basketball, it’s never solely about the game...
...which brings me to Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson, Jimmy King, Jalen Rose, and Chris Webber.
These five players, at 18 years old, initially went to college to play ball together. Did they realize what they were doing when they all signed letters of intent to play together? Chris Webber even says it when he was 18, talking about “I don’t see why it’s so big,” in regards to the anticipation of his announcing a decision on where to play college ball. As soon as they took the court, even I, at nine years old, was astonished at what I saw.
There were players on television playing the way I played with my friends back in Denton, as well as for other kids who played ball all over the country; they played hard and played with an innocence that simply said “we’re gonna hoop, and not only that, we’re gonna have a blast doing so.”
I was fascinated by it all. Outside of UNLV the year before, something like this was out of the ordinary, and even with UNLV, they were a mix of players, classification-wise. These Michigan boys were all freshmen, all wet behind the ears, and they used that to fuel their desire to play the game to the best of their ability.
Some people say “well, they never won anything.” First of all, if we were to relegate sports to winning and losing, then we wouldn’t have much to talk about, because there are only so few “winners,” in the sense of who wins a championship. Secondly, like Jalen said in the documentary:
"Tell me who won it two years ago. Five years ago. Tell me who was the starting five that beat us." - Jalen Rose.
To me, that’s only one of many reasons why the Fab Five won. When I was watching this doc, I felt like I was nine and ten years old again. When the Fab Five lost to Duke, I remember being pissed, and even though I couldn’t dissect my hatred for Duke at nine years old like I can at 28, it was still genuine.
When the Fab Five lost to UNC the next year, though? I was devastated. For real. Man, I cried like I knew those players for real. It was as if they were my older brothers, all on TV, competing for the national championship, and when they didn’t win the championship, I was sick as hell.
That’s the only time I have ever done something like that, over a game that I didn’t actually compete in. When they lost, it seems like I, as well as many others who love the Five, lost as well.
Even with that, though, it was a game; a contest, and for the years following, from 1993 to present-day, people revere The Fab Five. Chris Webber is one of my favorite players who ever lived, and if the dude walked up to me now, I, as a grown-ass man, wouldn’t even know what to do, and it’s all because of the impact he had from the fall of 1991.
The dude gets crucified for reasons that folks should just let go, but at the same time, it was refreshing, and in a sense, a relief, to see his teammates, his coaches, and even the President of the United States, let him know that everything would be okay.
That says a lot about the impact he had, when the doggone Commander-in-Chief takes time out of his day to write a letter to him, illustrating his own experiences, and letting him know there’s still life to live, and that he will be great.
What’s funny is I told Ed, before the documentary came on, that neither of us should write about The Fab Five today. Even though we show love to them constantly on this site, the idea was we didn’t want to do it with the documentary coming on tonight and everyone talking about them the next day. However, once the documentary came on, and all the pictures, moments, and events came back to life, it just had to be done.
The Fab Five will always be the reason I love college basketball. For some people, they were fascinated by Jalen Rose telling stories about how he wore his high school number out of spite for his father. For others, they’ll relate to Ray Jackson and his frustrations during his freshman year at the school.
There were some people who are from Texas who had no idea that Jimmy King played ball at Plano, and for others, they’re amazed at the events surrounding Juwan Howard and his signing day, along with the loss of his grandmother. These reasons, and more, are just some why the Fab Five will forever be relevant.
The Fab Five will always have an influence on the culture of the game, as well as the actual product on the floor, and who knows: maybe one day, five top-50 high school seniors will see their impact, decide to join together, and do so with the singular goal of winning the national championship. If that day comes, they, along with anyone else who loves the Fab Five, will undoubtedly pay homage to the ones who started it all. Besides, it’s been nearly 20 years, and they are still revered…and rightfully so.
Big thanks are in order to netw3rk, for providing the link to the Clinton letter.
P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!