I bet you more kids on the current Michigan roster are familiar with Jimmy King and Ray Jackson than they are with Rumeal Robinson and Glen Rice. Robinson made two of the most clutch free throws in NCAA tournament history, game-winning freebies that gave the 1989 Michigan Wolverines a national championship. Glen Rice was on that squad, too. He was the tournament MOP and went on to play in a couple NBA All Star games. Rumeal had a solid NBA career, too. Jimmy King played all of 64 games in two abbreviated seasons in the NBA. Ray Jackson never played a minute of NBA ball. But Ray and Jimmy have a legend, a recognizable mystique and cachet with young men, many of which weren’t even alive in 1992 or 1993 to watch them ball in the Final Four.
We’ve done a lot of Fab Five reminiscing for the past week or so. This was Michigan’s first appearance in the Final Four since Ray, Jimmy, Juwan, Jalen and Chris took college basketball by storm. And, although the 20-year anniversary provides a neat narrative, frankly, the Fab Five is Michigan basketball – championship or not. Meanwhile, they have completely overshadowed a team that, at schools with similar championship histories, would be the toast of the campus, the main subject of the program’s lore.
That ’89 squad was dope, man. Rumeal, Rice, Loy Vaught, Terry Mills, Sean Higgins – all five played in the NBA. Robinson, Rice, Vaught and Mills were first round pick and all but Mills were lottery picks. It was a serious squad that went on a cinematic tourney run that crested with the nail-biter over Seton Hall. Epic stuff. Yet, who even cares these days? It’s sad, really.
There are numerous ways to empirically demonstrate the Fab Five’s impact/resonance; but totally overshadowing a championship team full of future pros might be chief among them.