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Detroit Free Press: Jalen Rose: It’s ‘a travesty’ coach Steve Fisher absent from Michigan

November 18, 2016


October 1, 2016 – Jalen Rose’s crusade to restore the Fab Five’s place in the Michigan basketball pantheon continues.

As the emcee of Michigan’s Jordan Brand jersey unveiling tonight, he had the crowd chanting “Hang the banners,” alluding to those from the Fab Five era that were removed when U-M went on probation in 2003.

But while he continues to advocate for himself and his famous four teammates — though he made clear he doesn’t speak for Chris Webber — he understands that’s a healing process.

As a gesture, he’d like to see them honor his coach at Michigan, Steve Fisher, who was fired in 1997, during the heat of the Ed Martin booster scandal.

“How about a guy like Coach Fisher? He won the only national championship at Michigan, he hosted two other Final Fours and I don’t see his name anywhere,” Rose said, standing in Michigan’s Player Development Center. “That (exile) is not happening across the country. When I see coach Cal (John Calipari) go back to UMass and go back to Memphis, though they went on probation, he’s still adored and still appreciated. As much as we’re discussing the Fab Five, I do have to allude to Coach Fisher because it does hurt my heart that I don’t see his legacy still in this building in any way, shape or form. That’s a travesty.”

Fisher has coached at San Diego State since leaving Michigan and has not returned in any meaningful way, even as Rose, Ray Jackson and Jimmy King have been honored at times.

With his 184 wins at Michigan, he is fourth on the coaches’ career list, passed by John Beilein at the end of last season, but he did it in just over eight years, while Beilein is entering his 10th. Fisher took over before the 1989 tournament when head coach Bill Frieder left for Arizona State and led the Wolverines to six straight wins and the 1989 national title. He recruited the Fab Five and took them to the NCAA title game in 1992 and 1993.

But he remains estranged from the program while Frieder has returned multiple times.

He wants a full embrace of his group and the feeling is that the group won’t be honored until Webber — the only one found to have violated NCAA rules by taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from Martin — apologizes. Rose hasn’t had any dialogue with new athletic director Warde Manuel yet though.


Rose, who is scheduled to participate in the Fab Five symposium on Oct. 8 to discuss the group’s 25-year legacy, was pleased to see the new Jordan Brand uniforms harken back to the simple ones worn by his group and the maize popularized around the world. U-M led into the unveiling tonight with a video of Fab Five highlights, not the current players.

Next, he’s hoping for something more substantial.

“It’s refreshing,” he said of the uniforms, as the players wore black socks. “It’s a step in the right direction, hopefully. It has a bittersweet feeling somewhat. It’s you can come visit but you can’t stay the night type of thing. Which is a little eerie. But it’s fine. But I think we’re making progress toward a reconciliation.”

As for the Webber connection, their relationship seems strained.

“I speak for me, the only guy I can speak for — Juwan, Ray and Jimmy, too,” he said, grinning and obviously leaving Webber’s name out. “I don’t think one person has to apologize for what we accomplished. If that’s what they’re waiting for, if that’s what he’s waiting for then, that’s just semantics.”

Contact Mark Snyder at msnyder@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @mark__snyder. Download our Wolverines Xtra app on iTunes and Android!