these guys hold a certain place in my life because choosing them to win it all against unc proved a pivotal moment in my relationship with my grandfather. we were in hawaii and he was hungry for some action so he said he’d bet $20 against whatever team i wanted to win the game. i asked my dad if michigan was a good choice and he said yes so michigan was my team. in the end webber sort of blew it for michigan despite getting 23 points and 11 rebounds. at one point during the game my grandfather said “looks like my niggers are doing better than yours.” in hindsight i suppose it was good that i chose michigan and suffered the heartbreak of that game. if i had chosen unc and won the $20 i may have been too happy to have properly reflected on that comment.
this documentary covers a lot of the cultural impact the fab five had and what they represented in sports and black culture. webber is noticeably absent, but the film is still excellent without his voice. the fab five were a contrast to the real powerhouse of the time – duke. they were the ghetto players with the long shorts and a more freewheeling style of play. duke was about character and discipline. jalen rose commented that he felt grant hill and others were uncle toms for going to duke and having good families, but he’s reflective on this point and remarks that it was a feeling he had more because of jealousy that his own father wasn’t in the picture than anything else. in this way the story of the fab five is also the story of young black males in today’s society. 56% of black youth grow up with only one parent, the struggle for identity, trying to fit in, but also to be an individual.
it also gets to the elephant in the room when it comes to college athletics – money. chris webber is one of the most infamous cases of a college kid getting money while playing for a big time team. he was indicted as a result and the ncaa moved on to their next victim. meanwhile the system hasn’t changed a lick and the core problem remains that talented kids get no representation and no slice of the pie they help bake. it’s sharecropping.
the film does a really good job of balancing all the secondary implications and issues that the fab five were a part of. other than chris webber’s absence, it’s a really great film.