So let’s talk about this…
There’s tons of anticipation for ESPN’s Fab 5 documentary on Sunday night, airing right after ESPN’s March Madness selection special. And rightfully so – perfectly timed, great concept, unforgettable team, and supremely relevant to a particular cultural subset. And I’m talking hoop heads, not just black men now aged 30-54.
People are going crazy over this show. They can’t wait, it’s their favorite team ever, great NBA talent, changed the culture of basketball, something for them to identify with, all that. And I get that, I really do. That Michigan team was the coolest, dripping with swag before swag was in fashion, from the long shorts to the black socks and shoes to the shaved heads. But my friends lose me when they say that the Fab 5 team was great, because that’s bullshit.
So this must be said clearly – that Michigan Fab 5 team is one of the most overrated College Basketball teams of ALL-TIME. Truth.
Consider the following…
They never won a title, and they never even won a CONFERENCE TITLE. Are you kidding me? How can they be an all-time great team without winning their own damn league?
Let’s start with Year 1, the 1991-1992 season. They were a good young team, a bunch of young kids that didn’t know any better, even took defending champ Duke to OT early in the season. They played well in Conference, finishing tied for third, but certainly not the mark of a great team. In the tournament, they went on a nice run to the Championship Game, beat some good teams along the way…not the first time that’s ever happened. In the championship, they were ultimately routed by a TRULY GREAT team, that same back-to-back Duke team led by Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley. Good team, nice run, memorable season, all that…but extremely far from a great team.
Let’s move on to Year 2, the 1992-1993 season. Great regular season, 31-5, but again didn’t win their conference. I’m sorry folks, all-time great teams win their conference, that’s the sign of greatness. But they were still a 1 seed, clearly a good regular season…but let’s not crown their ass just yet. In the tourney, they beat some shitty teams to make the Final 4 (16, 9, 12, 7). In the Final Four, they manned up and came back to beat Kentucky (without a fouled-out Jamal Mashburn)….but a great win nonetheless. From there, we know they lost to UNC in a close one.
Let’s dive into that UNC loss for a second. Everyone points to the Chris Webber timeout call when they were down two points, but let’s remember, HE TRAVELED BEFORE HE EVER CALLED TIMEOUT. The game should’ve been iced right there, the timeout doesn’t really matter. Additionally, Michigan was up 4 with 4 minutes to go. Now wait a second – you’re telling me that an all-time great team couldn’t close out that game, and then made a mental mistake in their last attempt to tie things up? Please folks, that’s not a great team…great teams win close games.
Culturally relevant – YES – without a doubt.
Great team? Come on son.
And I’m not even diving into the fact that, as far as the record books go, this team never existed. Webber took money, so they were ineligible. I would’ve done the same thing as Webber, so I’m not going high brow on you here, but facts are facts. From here, I’m moving on, as you have to agree with me at this point.
But let me leave you with this – who actually deserves the documentary? The never-existed team that was more sizzle than steak? Or the back-to-back Duke team that beat the two most “culturally relevant” teams of the era – the Michigan Fab 5 and the previously “unbeatable” UNLV Runnin’ Rebels?
I’m all for cool stories, and I’m fired up to watch the Fab 5 story, it looks great. But I’m anxious to see if ESPN lets the facts get in the way of a good story. And it’s an indisputable FACT that the Fab 5 wasn’t that good.