The Fab Five

Moving Image
Created: 2011


The Fab Five
Summary: "There is little debate in the college basketball world that those five players, who joined the Michigan Wolverines as freshmen in the fall of 1991, represent the greatest class ever recruited.

"Perhaps the most misunderstood, too.

"Eventually known worldwide as the 'Fab Five,' each member of the quintet was rated in the top 100 of national recruits in the Class of '91. Four of them -- Webber, Howard, Rose and King -- were rated in the top 10.

"In their heyday, the Fab Five were widely portrayed as the root of all evil in college sports. They wore baggy shorts and black socks. They blasted hip-hop music in the locker room. They talked trash. A lot.

"Those types of uniforms and behavior might be commonplace today, but 20 years ago it was revolutionary, polarizing and heavily influential to a generation of young athletes. Although the Fab Five never got into serious trouble off the court, the players symbolized to many people a clear shift in the sports world and youth culture. Fans of all races and demographics spent millions of dollars on Michigan jerseys, shorts and the like, trying to capture a tiny slice of the group's mystique. By the end of their second year together, the Fab Five were routinely battered in the national media for the way they carried themselves. Articles and television reports painted them as brash villains or worse -- as thugs.

"Now, two decades later, Rose, Jackson, King and Howard have come together in ESPN's 'Fab Five' documentary to tell the inside story of the freshman class that was feted as rock stars. Notably absent is Webber, the No. 1 recruit from the Class of '91, who isn't yet willing to discuss two sticky subjects: the payment scandal, which led to legal problems for Webber and the removal of the Fab Five's banners from Crisler Arena, and the infamous timeout gaffe at the end of the 1993 national championship game.

"The documentary, however, isn't afraid to tackle those subjects as well as the formation, rise, scandal and epilogue of the team.

"Director Jason Hehir and ESPN Films incorporate rare archival footage from the players' early years, with interviews and music from the early 90s to illustrate the changing times of the basketball culture. Often times brutally honest, the film tells of the good and the ugly sides of basketball in the early 90s, including Jalen Rose's controversial name calling of arch rival Duke, 'Schools like Duke didn't recruit players like me'I felt that they only recruited players that were Uncle Toms.' These comments ignited a national debate over complex issues of race and class within the black community (see NY Times and WSJ articles included).

"Controversial, but inspiring, 'The Fab 5' is much more than a story of a young, successful basketball team. As 18 and 19 year olds, these young men revolutionized college [sports;] begging young athletes to express themselves despite being scrutinized every step of the way."--2011 Peabody Awards entry form.

Corporate Producers: ESPN Films | Three Tier Entertainment (Firm) | ESPN (Television network)

Persons Appearing: Taye Diggs

Broadcast Date: 2011-03-13