March 23, 2011
It was rather refreshing to see Grant Hill slap down Jalen Rose in response to Rose’s ridiculous pronouncement that Hill was an “Uncle Tom” for essentially valuing education and actually knowing both his parents. Hill wrote a well thought out piece for the New York Times in which he declared pride in his parents and gratitude for his Duke education. This rebuttal resulted from the firestorm that was created by Rose’s smack talk in the Fab Five documentary recently aired on ESPN.
I’m going to engage in some revisionist history here, because as a Michigan graduate I was a fan of the five young ballers who went to the NCAA basketball title game as freshmen, and then repeated the feat the following year as sophomores, although they lost both contests. The group was brash and energetic, and I witnessed a good number of their games either on TV or live in Crisler Arena.
But the passage of time has lent a different perspective than the one I held all those years ago, and I now have to consider the real legacy of the Fab Five. Perhaps after all the smoke has cleared, the only thing these Wolverine hoopsters really did was help usher in the era in which we’re now mired, an era where mediocrity is not just rewarded, but exalted. An era in which, not unlike the Fab Five themselves, people become famous not for their accomplishments, but for simply being famous. An era that has spawned the Kardashians and the Hiltons and Kate Gosselin and other non-talents who will do anything to get their faces on the idiot box. An era of lowered standards and in-your-face sportsmanship.
Because if you take the time to look at the ledger, the Fab Five really didn’t accomplish much. Consider this: I, me, yours truly has won as many Big Ten Championships, won as many NCAA championships, and won as many NBA title rings as every member of the Fab Five combined. That’s right…not one single member of that vaunted ball team won a single championship of any kind beyond high school. In fact, their only real claim to fame is having lost two consecutive NCAA championship games and contributing to the me-first mentality that now pervades a sports world where it is more important to make it on Sports Center than it is to win games. But even any evidence of that ersatz achievement has been eviscerated as the team’s Final Four banners were removed from the Crisler rafters in the wake of Chris Webber’s conviction for lying to a grand jury about accepting illegal funds from a Michigan booster while Webber was in school.
Incidentally, Uncle Tom Grant Hill won two NCAA Championships at Duke, was voted NBA Rookie of the Year in 1995, and won a gold medal in the 1996 Olympics. Some Fab Five.