The Legacy of the Fab Five
By Jalen Rose
Jalen Rose, a retired NBA star, was a member of Michigan’s famed “Fab Five,” a quintet of freshman basketball players (including Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson) that led the school to appearances in the NCAA tournament final in 1992 and 1993. Rose served as an executive producer on the recent ESPN documentary “The Fab Five.” In the documentary, Rose said he believed at the time that Duke only recruited black players that he considered “Uncle Toms.” Grant Hill, who starred on the Duke team that beat Michigan in the 1992 final, responded to Rose last week in the New York Times. “I caution my fabulous five friends to avoid stereotyping me and others they do not know in much the same way so many people stereotyped them back then for their appearance and swagger,” he wrote.
I want to thank the many people who helped to make last Sunday’s “Fab Five” documentary the highest-rated documentary in ESPN history. The response was tremendous and demonstrates the legacy of the Fab Five will be long remembered and we have secured our place in the history of college basketball. The purpose of the documentary was to tell the story from our perspective.
Although we came up short of our ultimate goal of winning the championship, we showed we were full of substance and not just hype. Creating the documentary, I wanted to show we did something that has never been done and possibly no other team will accomplish — start five freshman and reach the NCAA championship. We were a band of brothers and the documentary reflected our bond on and off the court. To this day, I am proud to say my Fab Five teammates are my brothers.
Addressing the elephant in the room, comments from the documentary regarding Duke University were completely taken out of context. I respect the success of Duke’s program and stated this was my opinion as a teenager growing up in the inner city of Detroit. I also acknowledged that Grant Hill had something I wanted growing up – a successful family. It’s a bit disappointing some people insinuated I think black people from successful families are Uncle Toms. What made the documentary must-see TV is the fact we showed brutal honesty and addressed every topic head on and without reservation.
At the end of the day, some people will have their own opinions about the Fab Five and who we are as people. I am proud of what we achieved together from 1991-1993 and even more proud of the men we have become and how we all work in the community. For example, this past Friday, I had a groundbreaking ceremony with Dave Bing, the mayor of Detroit, for the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, my college prep charter school for inner city youth. I am proud to be one of the few athletes to open my own school. Legacies are defined by how people remember you when you are long gone. The Fab Five and the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy are two things I will now leave behind as my legacy.