NCAA Basketball

Like the Original Fab Five, 30 for 30 Special Comes Up Short

| by Alex Groberman

The only thing more ironic than the fact that the 30 for 30 ESPN special on Michigan’s Fab Five didn’t deliver up to the hype, was that Chris Webber was the one member who didn’t travel to participate in the filming.

Look, I get it. It was a self-produced, self-made documentary on the plight and troubles of the poor young black males that were exploited by the vastly corrupt and under-appreciative NCAA structure. They made their university and everyone around them rich, but they didn’t get anything in return. They got swindled. They were cheated.

They are the victims.

And they even had Mitch Albom clips mixed in for flavor. If that man isn’t the ultimate pillar of truth and honesty, I don’t know who is.

It was almost comedic that the one guy that the documentary chose to paint in a bad light, the one guy who supposedly did take more than “a hundred bucks to go out” (as Jalen Rose half-admitted he did) was Webber. You have to wonder how different the documentary would have been if he had partaken in the festivities. Maybe if that had happened, nobody on the Fab Five would have taken money in their warped version of recent history, and they would have all been the hapless sufferers.

Give me a break. They took money. If not all of them, then Rose at the very least took more cash than the mini-totals he tried to make it out to be in the special. The only thing they accomplished with this self-made dedication to themselves, was influencing the feeble-minded folks who don’t have the mental capacity to critically think about all of the information presented.

ESPN promoted this mess for a month. It was supposed to be the truth behind the college team that started some sort of revolution. Or you know, at least thought they did. After all, if you go by what the four musketeers said in the documentary, they were the ones who introduced hip hop music and baggy shorts to the world.  

Never mind that they admitted, in the actual special, that they took the idea of baggy shorts from some random no-name baller by the name of Michael Jordan.

Webber’s absence from this spectacle spoke volumes. He had lied about his time in Michigan from the beginning, and we should all be thankful that he spared himself the indignity of doing it again all these years later. Because make no mistake about it, if he appeared in this 30 for 30 special -- like Rose -- he would have had to downplay, and twist, and concoct random excuses for actions we all knew he took.

It’s not the fact that they took money that is the problem. We know they did. Too many players do it to look down on the Fab Five for it, though.

It’s not the fact that Rose, Jimmy King and the rest were arrogant, cocky me-first players that helped usher in a generation of similarly annoying self-promoters. There were too many of those type of players, in every sport, to count.

It wasn’t even that they tried to mask their racist hatred for Duke and everything the institution stood for with some poorly thought-out rhetoric about softness and Uncle Toms. The good folks at Duke probably shared a similar ideology about the thugs from Michigan.

No, the problem is the woe is me party that the Fab Five threw for themselves, without ever touching on the inherent hypocrisy that at the very least Webber and Rose were involved in.

Here are these guys, whining and crying about what pawns they were in a big-time scheme that made others rich. How they were used, abused and thrown to the side while their merchandise was moving off the shelves. Yet, they don’t want to discuss the fact that THEY TOOK MONEY.

The moment these guys opted to take cash, justified or not, from an illegitimate source as collegiate players – they forfeited the right to complain about others making money off of them. The players that don’t take money and actually do suffer while others make money off their talent in college, those are the guys who should be complaining. The guys who are now considered guilty until proven innocent any time someone suggests that they may have taken money under the table while still in college when they in fact didn’t, those are the guys who should be complaining.

Not these guys.

It was a solid little piece of entertainment that ESPN and the Fab Four put together, but don’t mistake it for a documentary. A real, legit documentary would have told the whole story – this didn’t. Rather, this was an extremely well-directed, nicely shot, half-truth.

In a way the ESPN 30 for 30 special on the Fab Five fit the bill. It was a vastly-hyped, ulta-promoted glitzy spectacle that didn’t deliver to expectations – far more style than substance. And because of that, it allowed everyone who missed the group's original run understand exactly what they stood for.