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2007, March 30: Metro NY – Just Fabulous

June 24, 2008

Legacy of Michigan Final Four teams is seen on every court in the country…

They’ve combined for 42 NBA seasons, six All-Star games and over 45,000 points.

But when you talk to people about the Fab Five, they want to talk about the shorts and the socks.

"When they came out with the black shoes and black socks and big
shorts, everybody wanted to go to Michigan," says Knicks guard Nate
Robinson.

It’s been 15 years since Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Ray
Jackson and Jimmy King took the basketball world by storm, reaching the
NCAA finals with five freshmen starters. They did it again as
sophomores before Webber left to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.

They won 56 games those first two seasons, but made fans with their style – both of play and in apparel.

"I had the shoes that they wore and everything," says Orlando Magic
guard Jameer Nelson, who had just turned 10 when Fab Five met Final
Four. "I wanted to go to Michigan. It was one of the greatest teams
ever."

The greatness transcended sports, too. The link between basketball and
hip-hop had already formed, but nothing gave it the strength of steel
like the Fab Five. They were a high-wire act on the court, with dunks
and fast breaks that were as flashy as Run DMC’s gold chains. They had
attitude and they weren’t afraid to show it – even if it meant extra
laps after practice.

"I remember the longer we wore our shorts, the more we had to practice
with Coach Fisher," Webber says. "He used to put these rings on the
basketball to make it harder to make shots and we actually kept score
like it was going to make a difference."

"We had to work hard to wear black socks and do some things."

"The world got a chance to see our bond with the bald heads, black
shoes, black socks, big shorts and how that revolutionized the game,"
Rose says. "But hip-hop made it mainstream. You didn’t see Isiah
Thomas, Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson in rap videos or on TV talking
about they like BET. The bond we had transcended basketball."

It won’t soon be forgotten either. Even if today’s youngsters don’t
have ESPN Classic to see what ballers wore before the Michigan days,
Rose is there to help.

"Butt-huggers," he says of the old style shorts. "Thigh-grabbing."

"Soft porn."

Unlike style, attitude never changes.

by david sandora / metro new york