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Monday, March 14, 2011

Fab Five Movie Review: Two Banners Down

This is going to be brief. 

As entertainment and strictly as a documentary, I thought the FAB FIVE movie on ESPN last night was really good.

As a Michigan fan, I'll say what I've always said about the Fab Five: their "legacy" is one of destroying the program.  Period.  The reason simply making the tournament this year is such a big deal for our once proud program is a direct result of the carnage left behind by the Fab Five, who never won anything during their days at Michigan.

Furthermore, watching these guys a) show no remorse for what happened to the program as a result of their "legacy" - and even "blaming" Michigan to some extent and b) hearing them continually talk about about the money they weren't making as college athletes, was appalling and tells me not much has changed.

Put it this way, if you change the colors on the jerseys in that doc to Green and White or Scarlet and Gray, Michigan message boards - and probably this blog - would be filled with M fans today ripping them.

Their legacy is still being felt today - and not in a good way


Bigasshammm said...

Didn't watch it. Didn't care.

Matthew said...

@Big Thanks for your update...

Michael said...

I thought the documentary was great. I am roughly the same age as these guys and followed them closely. Even played against Webber in high school (Yes, he destroyed us). Webber appeared to be the main culprit in the money situation out of the Fab 5, but these guys are not the main reasons for the NCAA sactions. There were several players after them, Traylor and such that played a large roll in the problem. The NCAA sanctions did not rise and fall with the Fab 5, but numerous players after the fact. I believe college athletes should be able to recoup some of the money they generate for their school. They make millions on selling of jerseys, shoes, etc. Most of these kids are from low income familys and have nothing. What would you do as a 18, 19, 20 year old when someone waves cash in front of you and your family can barely eat or heat their house?

The Fab 5 was in my opinion the greatest group of freshman to ever be assembled. They changed the game and is reflected to this day.

Crock said...

I completely agree that UM hoops is still recovering from the scandal.
But, the most impressive thing I gained from watching was Mr. Jalen Rose. 15 years ago - I would've never thought he'd do so much for the city and give back. He was very real and admitted his mistakes.

Mark said...

As Michael somewhat mentioned, too much of the blame is put on the Fab Five. Four of them had nothing to do with the sanctions. The sanctions came from Webber, Traylor, Taylor, and Bullock. Rose, Howard, King, and Jackson didn't destroy the program. Those guys don't deserve any of the blame for that.

Yost said...


In the doc, Rose admits he took money from Martin. He states that as the reason he wasn't indicted - b/c he didn't lie to the grand jury by admitting he took cash and such from Martin.

Just b/c he didn't get caught doesn't make it any less wrong.

Bigasshammm said...

Yeah I'd rather watch something other than remember getting Fed in the A by our own players.

David said...


Jalen did take a small amount of money from Martin, but it was only $50 or less on occasion. It wasn't often. Still wrong, but he didn't take anything major. Webber, Traylor, Taylor and Bullock took a combined $616,000. That is the reason Michigan was hit so hard by the NCAA. The NCAA looked as hard as they could into Jalen, and all they found was that he received a petty amount of cash from Martin.

Andy said...

I have tried for years to forget those years of Michigan Basketball. It was painful to watch the program destroyed. I went to school with Glen Rice and most of the '89 championship team (graduated the year before they won).

I watched last night just because I was curious to hear how it would be spun. 3 things stick in my mind.

1) they were so talented, it was ridiculous. At the same time they were so brash and cocky, it was ridiculous.
2) if someone had asked me 15 years ago, I would not picked Jalen as the most accomplished adult in the group. Seriously, all five of them have been successful adults in their own way.
3) "you fear what you don't know" as I have matured, I guess have become more tollerant. Their hip hop act turned me off years ago. Now I have a better understanding.

Andy said...

Also, I think can expect some type of recognition in 2013.

Shorty the Beachcomber said...

Foot in mouth requires message!

For those who think amateur athletes deserve a slice of the pie I have two quick refutes:

1. We live in a free world with a free market, the NCAA is not a monopoly. The NCAA is not the only option before a shot at the NBA. If playing amateur basketball does not accomodate the desires of a player to get paid, no one is legally holding them back from playing basketball in Europe, Israel, Turkey, or Mexico. If they want to get paid they can, but when they sign to play at a NCAA school of their own free will, they are obliged to follow the rules that go along with that opportunity.

The only time anyone has a right to legitimately challenge their environment is someone who lives in a monopolistic world like Soviet Russia. When you are part of a system, and don't have a say, or a choice to not be a part of that system, then you have a legitimate complaint. The NCAA is not a monopoly on basketball after high school.

2. The other point I wish to make is that this whole argument about exploitation is implying that some greedy corporate robber baron is getting rich off of these players. That is mostly not true. The heads of these NCAA institutions and the ADs are highly successful individuals who take these jobs simply because they want to be a part of the education process. Most of them are former CEOs or board members of highly successful companies and are actually taking a paycut to go be a part of an NCAA institution. Head coaches make big money, but they also bring big money in, so they are paid their worth (doesn't mean that I like them, though).

The money that the players help earn for the school does not go into a fatcat's pocket, rather back into the Athletic Department. Let me ask anyone, where does the Tennis team get it's funding? The fencing team? The swimming team? Rowing? Soccer? Get my point? Many, many college athletes are able to get scholarships to pay for school (an opportunity that they otherwise may not have been able to afford) because the two high earning sports make enough money to be able to support these other programs. The kids playing in the high earning sports are making the money necessary to pay for the education of many other fellow students. If you take money valued at X (to pay players) from the athletic department of university Y, that money will have to be cut from the budget which could mean firing coach Z and their staff and cutting the scholarships for the players of sport Z. Its simple math.

When I first made this argument I qualified my statement with "mostly". The few that are making money off of the likeness are the apparell companies, which in turn pay ever higher amounts to the universities for licensing rights. No one knows how much exactly the apparel companies make because their books are private, but if the universities feel like they are being swindled in their relationship with an apparel outfitter, they always have the right to change outfitters, or they could even go revolutionary and design their own brand and sell their own line themselves.

I have a hard time feeling these kids, who don't play in a monopoly, are being exploited. Most kids these days who can't afford college on their own don't get it paid for by playing a sport with their God-given abilities, they get it paid for by Uncle Sam when they serve in the Armed Forces.

On another note, I love that Gene Smith's NCAA selection committee is drawing fire for possibly the worst selection job of the last decade.

VT's Head Coach: "10 different members, 10 different criteria. That's where leadership comes into play." Take that Gene Smith, FAIL!

Ryan said...

"I have a hard time feeling these kids, who don't play in a monopoly, are being exploited. Most kids these days who can't afford college on their own don't get it paid for by playing a sport with their God-given abilities, they get it paid for by Uncle Sam when they serve in the Armed Forces."

what he said.

surrounded in columbus said...

let me ever so politely disagree on this issue of players & opportunity:

You ever notice how seldom you hear about scandals in college hockey or baseball? The pros in those sports make millions- maybe more so than football if not basketball. And yet there's almost never any sort recruiting problems or player payouts in either sport (certainly nothing on the scale & frequency of bball or football).

Why? My personal theory is that because both the NHL & MLB have their own minors and have no restrictions on taking players straight out of high school, the truly difficult cases seek the money route (no matter the odds) rather than try college. The kids w/ talent in these sports who aren't inclined for school have a very ready alternative- they can go get a job and make money at something they're arguably good at.

The NCAA (& its members) actively collude w/ the NBA & NFL to prevent that option to football & basketball players. And as long as they do that, there's going to be a lotta kids who don't belong in college playing college sports because they
have to, and you can't be surprised when they don't follow the rules of a system they didn't want to be a part of to start.

Shorty the Beachcomber said...

Good point, and I agree to a degree. I feel the NBA is the ass of professional sports (thus why I don't care about it) and is up to its head in collusion in every facet. Being a Seattle native I saw how Stern helped his buddy make excuses for why they had to leave Seattle (14th largest market) to move to Oklahoma City (45th in the US) to save the franchise. And they got away clean DESPITE leaving an EMAIL trail of collusion (like Tressbag).

As for football, I agree that no 18or 19 year old (maybe 1 every two years) is physically capable of playing NFL football (a man's body's game). As for NFL collusion, of course it too is rampant within its own organization. Just look at the owners' TV contract in preparation for the lockout. Almost all the owners are scum (I would like to notably exclude Art Rooney, though I despise the Steelers, simply because he publicly stated he is against an 18 game schedule which we all know is a ploy by the majority of the owners for more cash despite the increased damage it would do to the players who already compete in a player mill sport). Any owner who is against 18 games I have at least some respect for.

The one thing I would suggest is that some rich businessmen create a minor football league where anyone 18 and older can play. Just like minor league baseball, it would work having the Cam Newton's of the world getting 75,000 a year to play in the south. People and endorsements would show up to support a minor league team in towns like Birmingham, AL with players like Cam highlighting teams.

However, I still have no sympathy for the high profile amateur athletes on the account that they play at major universities because they enjoy the attention and exposure (TV & big stadiums), and when they take money in secret on the side, well that is wanting your cake and eating it too. Life doesn't work that way. At least not in amateur athletics.

One question I would pose is, what is the economic background of all athletes caught/seriously suspected of taking money over the last 20 years? Webber and Hawk were from decent backgrounds, but my suspicion is that most of them come from a background similar to Maurice Clarrett and Jalen Rose.

Shorty the Beachcomber said...

Did anyone else see Doug Gottlieb's (one of the few great ESPN sport specific analysts) cell phone ring in the middle of him talking on Sportscenter this morning? Hilarious!!!

Mikoyan said...

I have zero sympathy for the owners in the lockout. They for the most part are playing in publicly subsidized stadiums and on publicly subsidized airwaves. They get what amounts to a guaranteed income stream....I wonder how many other businesses have that? And then on top of it, the NFL has a publicly subsidized minor league.

But I think you hit on a note...baseball and hockey have alternatives. It seems like the players that play in college are the ones that need a little more work for even the minor leagues of those sports.

rinmia77 said...

Quick rebuttal as I disagree with the original post and most of the comments:

I loved the Fab Five...still do. I loved the trash talking, loved the brash winning, and was proud to be a Michigan fan (and student) during that era. Fisher's latter years, not so much; but those Fab Five years were so much FUN! Webber and the rest owe the University nothing -- and the University owes them nothing either. I was a student at Michigan around that time and I don't feel the University and I are in some mutually-bound relationship for eternity. I was on scholarship but still took money from my father...still not sure how that's different than the basketball team taking petty cash from a guy with no affiliation to Michigan at the time.

As for the poster who argues student-athletes shouldn't be paid b/c universities aren't getting rich off them. Maybe university presidents aren't getting rich...but ESPN certainly is, Nike/Adidas certainly are. I agree that going to Europe is certainly an option, and over the next two decades (if the system doesn't change) it will be an option taken a lot more often. And btw, Europe is only an option for basketball players...but my guess is that imagining a world in which college football didn't have a monopoly on all the young talent is too painful for most of us to imagine.

Shorty the Beachcomber said...

I would also like to add to those who dislike the Fab 5 (including Yost with the post) that it is important to remember that Howard, King, and Jackson have done nothing wrong, and Rose was not even a concern for the NCAA. It was Webber's fault for what he did, the Fab 5 did not collectively stain Michigan, and that difference is important. They, with the exception of Webber, made Michigan proud.

As far as Webber apologizing one day (which I think we all can agree would be great, and by apology I don't mean one like Sen. Tressnuts gave in which he admitted to nothing) I think that chance was hurt when UofM sued him back in the day for restitution. I am not the expert if that is right or wrong, but it seems like UofM did its best to slap him right back in the face, and that is not what leads to apologies.

I hope one day soon for closure on this matter, and for a time when we can be proud as a university about the efforts made by the Fab 5and that we can in some way find a place where we can understand Chris Webber and be at peace with what happened.

Shorty the Beachcomber said...

And Yost,
You're right about opposing fans ripping the Fab 5, and we would rip on a rival if this was them, but that is what fans do. I will proudly claim four of the Fab 5 and if there ever is a time when Webber spills his guts I would do the same with him. That's what fans do, we hold onto our own and find any little excuse to rip on the opposition, but just because opposing fans can find a solid reason to rip on our Fab 5 doesn't mean that I am going to disown them from my heart or memory. They're my Fab 5, their energy was exciting and something to be proud of, and despite not winning a BTT or a NC (glad we didn't have to rob an entire team who was doing things the right way)they accomplished A LOT.

I also respectfully disagree with the notion that they are why making the tourney is a big deal today. Fisher seemed good enough to compete if he could get by with plausible deniability of the wrongdoings of recruiting in the Big Ten (just like Tressel). Ellerbe and Amaker stunk in their own special ways. The Fab 5 didn't hire them. They didn't give Ed Martin total access to the players that came after them either.

Shorty the Beachcomber said...

One thing I can't wrap my brain around:

In the documentary Bill Walton called them the most overrated, underachieving team. What is that? Is that possible? What was he even talking about? Bill Walton is a dirty hippie d-bag.

Yost said...

These comments are exactly why I love doing the site - even though we disagree on some matters here, all the comments are thoughtful and respectful of opposing viewpoints.

Good stuff, folks. Thanks for the various opinions.

Shorty the Beachcomber said...

One thought for Rinmia:
You're right that it is the apparel companies and ESPN that is getting rich off of the athletes. But when an athlete takes money he hurts the university and its fans, not ESPN and Nike. If a player has a problem with them making money off of his likeness he should find a willing lawyer (not hard in America) and sue that corporation like former players are doing to EA Sports (which they have a seriously legitimate case).

If someone feels they are being treated unjust, take the fight to the alleged transgressor, don't take it out on a third party, like the university* was in this case.

One more clarification: a UNIVERSITY is not the President, the Regents, or the AD, it is the fans, the alumni, and all those who come together to become a part of one community with the common goal of higher learning. Webber didn't wrong MSC, or DB, he wronged the fans, the students, the alumni, everyone who was a part of this Michigan community, and himself. He wronged everyone who was passionate about what is pure and good with Michigan (and was not collecting on his likeness), and left everyone else alone. I hope that someday this wound in everyone including him will heal.

If there are any rich people out there, now is the time to find fellow investors to make a minor league for football.