The upperclassmen could not match their baskets. And they could not match their enjoyment. The freshmen were having a party out there. They nodded and pointed to each other, backpedaling after baskets as if their union were the most natural thing in the world.

"GAME!"

They won easily.

"GAME!"

They won again.

"Can't check me," they taunted.

"Money!"

Jesus, they do a lot of talking …

The book was called "Fab Five: Basketball, Trash Talk, The American Dream." In a review of the book on Amazon.com, one reviewer suggested the title be, "Fab Five: The Story of the Baggy Pants Revolution." Damn, how times have changed.

Before the Queer Eye guys but after Freddie Wildstyle'd and Yo'd, for a larger part of America, the five brothas that graced the floor in Crisler Arena that year -- that day -- were something they had never seen before. Everything about them was new. Different. Fresh to death.

Chris Webber

Not only did they come with game, they came with juice ("swagger"), 'tudes ("arrogance"), knowledge born ("no Prop 48s") and a foresight ("arrogance, again") that they were going to change the landscape of college sports simply by being themselves.

Before they even stepped on campus together, Webber, Rose, Howard, King and Jackson knew they all were coming. They knew how rare it was for a major D-I university to get five freshmen like them at one time: African-American athletes with no JUCO records, who all passed the SATs, carried over 2.5 GPAs, who were not going to be redshirted.

Basically, the minute they all signed their letters of intent to accept scholarships (and money from boosters, in some cases) at the school Bo built, they knew they were going to become something special.

But two things happened in the midst of their making history on the basketball court. One, they found out that they would become more than just teammates, that they'd become friends, that they were, in Public Enemy lingo, "brothas of the same mind, unblind." And two, they realized they were all unapologetic about who they were and where they came from.

The former is what they dealt with internally, the latter is how they presented themselves to the world.

Like Ray Charles said: They made it do what it do.

And do it did.

Outside of reaching back-to-back NCAA finals, the Kings of New Jack's Other Swing gave America an up-close and personal look at unpoverty'd black male life in this country. They showed them how we act and react, how we talk and walk and talk the walk, how we dress to impress, style then profile, laugh to stop from crying, bleed to stay alive.

They showed America how we was livin', they showed America we.

And America fell in love.

Their 1992 championship game against Duke became the most-watched game in in NCAA basketball history. Their final game together, the next year in the championship game against UNC, became the second-most-watched game. Between the two, more than 40 million people tuned in to CBS not only to see these five brothas ball but also to see how they balled. Their style, their way, them.

Continued...


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