DETROIT (AP) – The two-year Fab Five era that featured teen-age swagger, promise, failure and eventually the taint of scandal at Michigan has been chronicled in a two-hour documentary to be aired on ESPN.
The project, produced by Detroit native Jalen Rose, a member of that heralded 1991 freshman class, will be aired Sunday night.
“The story of the Fab Five really has never been told,” Rose said. “This is almost like the Bible of the Fab 5 story.”
Rose approached ESPN Films about the project, and brought Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson and Jimmy King into the effort. The documentary will include home video, photos and interviews with coaches and players.
Great things were expected when the five All-Americans stepped onto the school’s Ann Arbor campus. Along with wins, the group brought an attitude not yet seen in college basketball. They wore long, baggy shorts, black socks and played with a flair more closely resembling playground basketball than the structured college game.
Rose said the film is not just about what happened on the court during the group’s two brief years together in Ann Arbor before Chris Webber entered the NBA in 1993, and then was followed in 1994 by Howard and Rose.
Missing from the project is Webber, the team’s superstar and part of a federal probe into money laundering. That investigation led to NCAA penalties and sanctions on the basketball program.
“At this point in Chris’ life, he’s not ready to talk about what happened at that time. It’s still a sore spot for him,” Rose said Tuesday during a media conference call. “Him not being a part of it in 2011 does not affect the integrity of it at all. The story still was going to be documented and it’s still going to be told in a truthful manner. We felt it was something the fans have been clamoring for.”
The Fab Five’s legacy, including their consecutive runs to the NCAA title game, have been overshadowed over much of the past decade by the scandal. Prosecutors said now-deceased booster Ed Martin gave Webber, Maurice Taylor, Robert Traylor and Louis Bullock more than $600,000 while they were student-athletes.
As part of self-imposed sanctions, Michigan took down banners – including those for the 1992 and 1993 Final Fours – and tucked them away in the basement of a library on campus. The school has largely avoided touting the Fab Five’s legacy to boost its basketball program.
Rose, Webber and Howard went on to long, successful careers in the NBA. The Associated Press left an e-mail message Tuesday seeking comment from Webber.
Associated Press Writer Mike Householder contributed to this report.
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