Michigan’s Fab Five changed the face of college and professional basketball. The days of short shorts and tight tops were coming to an end. They wore long baggy shorts and loose tops. They came to Michigan and they clicked. It was high flying excitable street ball in top notch organized university. They weren’t what most fans and players were accustomed to. Never the less, Chris Weber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson, went out and played their style. The 5 freshman would carrier Michigan to a 24-8 record in the 1991-1992 season, and lost their chance at the NCAA title loosing to Duke 51-71. That put a bad taste in their mouth for the 1992-1993 season. Now a seasoned talented Sophomore class, they desired that championship. Michigan returned to the championship game against another ACC powerhouse, North Carolina. The game was played down to the wire and a super close up camera shot captured the biggest mistake of the game when Chris Webber called time out with 11 seconds to go, the only problem was the team had already used all of their time outs. A technical foul was called and the game was lost 71-77. That was the last chance the Fab Five would have to get a championship.
I remember the game like it was yesterday. College ball was exciting that year especially for a kid in 11 grade who played basketball. I still have my Michigan hat that I got that year because of the Fab Five. There was much controversy over the time out call at the end of the game. Many believed it was an intentional call to through the game. Perhaps, but it very well could have just been an honest mistake for a kid who was just 2 years older then myself. It was mind blowing at the time and devastating to me as a fan, a kid, but a kid only 2 years younger then Webber. It fallows me to this day. Last week I was watching a live play of Mary Poppins, and in one scene there were a number of actors in a chimney sweep act. It was great perfectly performed and off they went to quickly change for the next act of finely dressed bankers. Only one of the actors didn’t get the chimney soot cleaned off one of their checks.
Something small and simple, but something these 19 and 20 year olds had practiced and performed many times, the soot simply got missed, but the show went on. I immediately thought of Webber. In a high pressure situation, stuck in the corner and the automatic, unconscious thing to do is call a time out before you turn the ball over. So in that moment did he just make a mistake or did he cease the perfect opportunity handed to him with 11 second to go and intentionally through the game?
The whole 92-93 season eventually went under review for players receiving money, and the controversy ended in a suspension and I believe their wins were all negated for the season. Webber, Rose, Howard, and King all went and played in the NBA. The documentary “The Fab Five”, breaks down the players, the times, the situations, and sheds a small light on that terrible moment when the game was lost in the last 11 seconds. I’ve always loved the Fab Five, and whether or not the NCAA recognizes those wins or not, the Fab Five is one of the all time best NCAA teams in the history of the game.
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