The Fab Five is one of the most unique basketball teams ever. They had the most talent, but never won a title. Out of the five members, only one won a title in the NBA. And their ESPN documentary raised controversy again. The team members haven’t been closed since they played at Michigan. But they were the team that changed basketball forever. The team consisted of Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson. The nickname Fab Five was given to them during the 1991-92 season, as they were the 1991 University of Michigan men’s basketball team recruiting class.
The team is considered by many “the greatest class ever recruited”, even higher than Jordan’s North Carolina class. But it wasn’t their talent that changed basketball. They were great, but it was their style. The Fab Five was recognizable for their long shorts, shaved heads, and trash talk as a primary language. Chris Webber was in the middle of it all.
As mentioned, the Fab Five were the 1991 recruiting class of University of Michigan. Four out of the five members were participants in the 1991 McDonald’s All American Game. And four of them were in the top 10 recruits. Webber was No.1, Rose No.5, Juwan Howard No.3, and Jimmy King No.9. All of the team members played on the season opener on December 2, 1991, against the University of Detroit. But their first game together was on December 7 against Eastern Michigan. It was up until February 9, 1992, that the Fab Five was a regular starting unit.
As students, the Fab Five gathered as much attention off the court as on the court. They wore athletic shoes, black athletic socks, and their controversial antics were well-known. In fact, most of the ESPN documentary is centered around their controversial antics.
But despite all of their talent, they never won a single championship. They never won a Big Ten Regular Season Championship, NCAA Championship, or Big Ten Conference Tournament. The most they did was reach the NCAA Championship game in 1992 as freshmen and in 1993 as sophomores. In the 1992 title game, they lost to Duke 71-51. In the 1993 title game, they lost to North Carolina 77-71. The 1993 title game is remembered for Chris Webber’s costly timeout which resulted in a technical foul. Michigan had no timeouts remaining, which Webber didn’t know.
Four out of the five members played in the NBA, with Ray Jackson being the only player never to play in the NBA. Jimmy King lasted only two seasons, Jalen Rose became a star, and led the Indiana Pacers in scoring from 1999 to 2003. Chris Webber made five All-Star games, and led the Sacramento Kings to eight consecutive playoff appearances. But it was Juwan Howard who won a title, although as a role player with limited minutes. Howard won two titles with Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013. He did not play in the Finals until the final minutes of Game 5 when the Heat clinched the title.
When ESPN aired the Fab Five documentary years ago, Chris Webber was the first one to comment. He was the only member of the Fab Five not to participate in the documentary. Jalen Rose was the producer, and he said Chris is lying.
Webber claimed that he was not asked to participate until the last minute. He also complained about the accuracy of the documentary. He said one teammate (many believing it was Rose) made himself more important to the story than he actually was.
Rose replied saying:
“One dude traveled then called timeout. One dude lied to grand jury and hasn’t apologized. One dude tried to circumvent the documentary to HBO. One dude ignored multiple requests from everyone involved after agreeing to participate. One dude played like (President) Obama and sat in a suite during Michigan’s recent title game. One dude slandered Ed Martin after all he did for him and his family. One dude is not in contact with the other four (which is all good). One dude has been doing a rebuttal doc for four years. One dude clearly is delusional and still in denial. Congrats on your amazing success! Respect had no price. Man up.”
Jimmy King also said that Webber is lying when he said he was not approached until the end of filming.
The documentary reminded everyone that the Fab Five have not been close since the year they were teammates.
- Jalen Rose, works as an analyst for ESPN after playing 13 years in the NBA
- Chris Webber played 15 years in the NBA, made five All-Star teams, and now works as an analyst for TNT
- Juwan Howard lasted the longest in the NBA, playing for 19 seasons and winning two titles. He works as an assistant coach for the Miami Heat
- Jimmy King played just two seasons in the NBA. He is now administrator in Ecorse, Michigan, school district where he coaches basketball
- Ray Jackson was the only one not to play in the NBA. He coaches basketball at his former high school in Austin, Texas