Single page view By Scoop Jackson
Page 2

In 1993, Mitch Albom documented the jump-off.

How five kids entered the stage in 1991 and changed the ideology of college athletics in America.

A few years before, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird changed the way the country felt about the game. With their style of play, differences in culture and supreme skill sets, they -- in the 1979 NCAA final -- drew the largest television audience in basketball history. As James Todd Smith put it: Bird and Magic were something like a phenomenon.

Mitch's script:

This was a pickup scrimmage, the returning players and the five new kids that would make up the 1991-92 Michigan basketball team. Practice had not yet officially begun, but players were encouraged to get together and work out on their own.

Already, a shift in the power structure was under way.

A hard-fought rebound led to a scuffle between Chris Seter, a senior forward, and Jimmy King, one of the new kids. Seter yelled, "I don't care who you think you are, you're a freshman around here!"

To which, Jalen Rose, the new 6-8 point guard, who sported a shaved head and a fake diamond earring, and had the habit of yelling 'Money!' whenever he fired a shot, immediately responded with a suggestion.

"OK, he's just a freshman. How 'bout we play freshmen against y'all?"

The upperclassmen shook their heads. This Rose kid had already gotten on their nerves with his I'm-in-charge-here attitude. Now he was drawing a line down the middle of the team. Freshmen against the rest. The veterans had been privately avoiding this since the pickup games began. They had nothing to gain. In most schools, the older players would win this challenge easily; but in most schools the veterans hadn't posted a [losing league] record last season, while the freshmen were winning every high school honor known to man.

"C'mon," Rose repeated, dribbling the ball for emphasis. "Whassup? Freshmen against y'all."

"All right," someone finally said. "Let's go."

And they drifted apart, crossing the invisible lines, those who had worn Michigan uniforms before, those who hadn't. Michael Talley, the junior guard, slapped a few of the older players on the butt, as if to say, no problem, we can handle these punks, let's do it. Seter blew a mouthful of aggravated air and dug in.

"Here we go," Rose whispered to Chris Webber (the McDonald's All-American).

"Let's run, baby," Juwan Howard said, flipping the ball to King, his roommate, who nodded over at his Texas partner, Ray Jackson.

Whoooooommmppph! A pilot light ignited. Four 18-year-olds and one 17-year-old were making like a doo-wop group dropping naturally into harmonies, creating basketball far richer than they could do apart. Howard, the big kid from Chicago, took a nice feed in low, turned and banked one in. Jackson and King, the Texas connection, came flying down on fast breaks, two blurs, seemingly out of control, collecting themselves at the last instant to jam it home and swing on the rim. Steals. Slams. They banged bodies on defense and grunted when they fought for rebounds. Sneakers squeaked up and down the hardwood floor, punctuated now and then by a "Whoooo!" holler from one of the freshmen.

Continued...


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