Michigan Rumors

Should you guys have made it more clear that what you may have felt 20 years ago as teenagers at Michigan might be different than you feel now? Juwan Howard: You have to keep in mind that it was how people felt 20 years ago. And people are entitled to their opinion. I respect Grant, of course, taking the stand that he did. If it was me, would I have done it? No. But that’s just me. I have a lot of respect for Grant as a person. And I have a lot of respect for Christian Laettner. If you really listen to the remarks, I think Jalen did an excellent job of not only telling how he felt at the time, but he also praised them.
What do you think of some of the backlash that has come from the documentary? There were some disparaging comments made about Duke and some of its players, particularly African-American players like Grant Hill. What did you make of reactions from Hill and Jalen Rose? Juwan Howard: Honestly, I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback. People see me in the street and they tell me they loved it. A lot of my colleagues, ex-teammates and even guys I haven’t played with said they loved it. I’ve bumped into NFL players down here in Miami during their offseason and they gave me a thumbs-up. I understand that a lot of the comments have been made, with Jalen and of course Jimmy [King] and Ray [Jackson]. I include myself. I didn’t say anything, use any derogatory language or comments, but that’s not to say that I didn’t think that during that time.
Grant Hill was so taken aback by that criticism that he wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times. What was your reaction to what Grant Hill wrote? JALEN ROSE: It was very eloquently put, the soliloquy he did for The New York Times. And I understand where he’s coming from. I’m pretty sure, whether it’s family members, friends, or the media, a lot of people have instigated this to a point where it’s become irresponsible journalism. I’ve heard people question whether Jalen Rose is a racist, I’ve heard people question whether I still feel that way now. The documentary clearly noted about how we felt about an opponent. [Grant Hill] was someone I was competing against. And what set the tenor of the documentary, (ESPN Analyst) Dick Vitale summed it up best when he said: “Michigan, they don’t represent the clean cut, All American kind of guy.” Well, that’s what Grant Hill represented.
ESPN for the last two years rolled out a series of documentaries but none of them has gotten the reaction and buzz of your “Fab Five” documentary that aired on March 13. Time Magazine described the reaction as a “media firestorm.” Did you anticipate the reaction that you got from the film? JALEN ROSE: I absolutely did. That’s why the entire time it was noted that the revolution will be televised. That’s why it was very important for the story to be told 20 years later, as opposed to five years, 10 years, or even 15 years because a lot of issues that were noted in the documentary, a lot of the conversation we discussed in the documentary, and a lot of the situations that we exposed — good, bad or indifferent — I knew a lot of people weren’t going to be ready for, and/or were uncomfortable hearing them, especially knowing that a lot of it was true.
A lot of people who watched the documentary were left wondering where was Chris Webber? JALEN ROSE: Chris has a great opportunity to participate. I felt personally, as well as Juwan, Ray, and Jimmy that the forum could not have gotten any bigger. It’s not like it was me and my boy holding a camera, trying to do a documentary. He was initially 100 percent committed to do it. That’s what allowed me to pitch it to ESPN. As he realized the project was moving forward, he got cold feet and he felt like he did not want to address the issues — good, bad, and ugly — that happened from 1991 to 1993. But since the story is about the Fab Five, the story is not just about him. For him to not give an interview in 2011, that really does not affect the integrity of the story.
Have you had a chance to speak to Grant Hill since the documentary aired? JALEN ROSE: I’m pretty sure, when we see each other in a week, a month, a couple of months — we will see each other soon, talk to each other soon, give each other a pound, hug it out, and move on. Really, the disappointing thing to me is when people try to make it a racial theme. The last time I checked, we’re both Black. It was a socio-economic issue that, at 17, I didn’t understand. Now, I do understand. So I don’t anticipate all of a sudden me and him setting up a heavyweight bout so we can slug it out. At the same time, I think it can now be a learning experience. Because whether people like the delivery or not, what remains is socio-economic issues based on class, based on status, based on stature, and those still exist. It’s unfortunate that a couple of idiotic media members were so simple-minded to take the term Uncle Tom to use that to define the doc, but not responsible enough to pay attention to how I said it. Again what I said about Duke, what I said about Grant Hill – that is how I felt. And I stressed it – I hated Duke. Not “I hate Duke.” Two separate things.
JALEN ROSE: In describing that term, that’s the word I used: Uncle Tom. Do I feel that way in 2011: of course not. He’s a very accomplished player, he comes from a tremendous family, Duke is an established program, Coach K is a tremendous coach, and the upbringing that Grant Hill had: that’s what I’m trying to bring to my kids. So I understand that it’s a school for everyone now. But then, I was fighting against Vitale’s comments; we were fighting against the letters you saw in the documentary that were so hate filled. And that was my way to express it.
Jalen Rose: At the end of the day, some people will have their own opinions about the Fab Five and who we are as people. I am proud of what we achieved together from 1991-1993 and even more proud of the men we have become and how we all work in the community. For example, this past Friday, I had a groundbreaking ceremony with Dave Bing, the mayor of Detroit, for the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, my college prep charter school for inner city youth. I am proud to be one of the few athletes to open my own school. Legacies are defined by how people remember you when you are long gone. The Fab Five and the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy are two things I will now leave behind as my legacy.
Jalen Rose: Addressing the elephant in the room, comments from the documentary regarding Duke University were completely taken out of context. I respect the success of Duke’s program and stated this was my opinion as a teenager growing up in the inner city of Detroit. I also acknowledged that Grant Hill had something I wanted growing up – a successful family. It’s a bit disappointing some people insinuated I think black people from successful families are Uncle Toms. What made the documentary must-see TV is the fact we showed brutal honesty and addressed every topic head on and without reservation.
The quote of the week is actually a nonquote, as in the silence offered by former Fab Fiver Juwan Howard on the Jalen Rose-Grant Hill controversy. Howard declined interview requests all week from Miami writers eager to get his thoughts on the documentary that aired last weekend on the Michigan freshmen. While Rose was left to squirm under intense criticism for remarks made about Duke recruiting only black players who were “Uncle Toms,” Howard refused to come to his former teammate’s defense. It’s an every-man-for-himself approach that has come to define the Fab Five’s legacy.
Elton on whether Rose has actually expressed this belief to his “FACE”: “It was a difference in cultures. Duke was a prestigious school and Michigan, well it’s pretty academically sound itself, so, you know what I mean? But I think that was just the rivalry, he might have said that on the court to those guys and he definitely felt that way and if that’s his opinion, then that’s how he felt.”
Elton on his reaction to Rose’s comment: “You know, I just know that it sounded kind of ignorant, but at that time he’s 17 years old, that’s how a lot of young adults are. I know people from where I was from felt the same way, you know? But I knew it wasn’t true and guys using those words are kind of harsh: sellout or Uncle Tom. Just because their parents stay together or worked hard? That doesn’t make sense.”
Hill, in the letter published on the Times website and signed “Grant Henry Hill, Duke ’94,” wrote that “In his garbled but sweeping comment that Duke recruits only ‘black players that were ‘Uncle Toms,’ Jalen seems to change the usual meaning of those very vitriolic words into his own meaning, i.e., blacks from two-parent, middle-class families. He leaves us all guessing exactly what he believes today. I am beyond fortunate to have two parents who are still working well into their 60s. They received great educations and use them every day. My parents taught me a personal ethic I try to live by and pass on to my children.”
That was supplemented by former Wolverine Jimmy King saying “I thought Grant Hill was a bitch .” Well, then… So today Grant Hill responded with an editorial in the New York Times: My mother always says, “You can live without Chaucer and you can live without calculus, but you cannot make it in the wide, wide world without common sense.” As we get older, we understand the importance of these words. Adulthood is nothing but a series of choices: you can say yes or no, but you cannot avoid saying one or the other. In the end, those who are successful are those who adjust and adapt to the decisions they have made and make the best of them. I caution my fabulous five friends to avoid stereotyping me and others they do not know in much the same way so many people stereotyped them back then for their appearance and swagger. I wish for you the restoration of the bond that made you friends, brothers and icons. I am proud of my family. I am proud of my Duke championships and all my Duke teammates. And, I am proud I never lost a game against the Fab Five.
Suns forward Grant Hill has written an editorial that will appear in this Sunday’s New York Times in response to the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on Michigan’s Fab Five. The Fab Five was a college contemporary of Hill’s time at Duke and the documentary, for which Jalen Rose was executive producer, has created controversy with statements Rose made about Duke recruiting, including an “Uncle Tom” reference. He and Michigan teammate Jimmy King made specific statements about Hill.
Former Michigan star Jalen Rose described Sunday’s ESPN documentary “The Fab Five” this way during a national conference call: “This is almost like the Bible of the Fab Five story. We really went in-depth about everything — the good, the bad, the ugly.” Michigan center Eric Riley’s memories of his days playing with the Fab Five fall under the “bad” and “ugly” categories more often than the “good.” “We felt like it was split. It felt like it was two different teams,” Riley said, referring to the Fab Five and the Wolverines players that were there before their arrival. “We had experience, and some of us had been on a team that won a national championship (1989). But we felt like we were just part of their team.”
Besides the on-court rivalry, Rose said in the film he felt Duke didn’t recruit black players like him, only those who were “Uncle Toms.” Patrick pointed out that Duke did recruit Chris Webber. “We would’ve welcomed him with open arms,” Hurley said. “Jalen, on the other hand, I can understand why we didn’t recruit him. He might have a tough time hitting the floor, because he wasn’t taking my spot.”
Jalen Rose &. Co. admitted how much they despised the Blue Devils teams of the early 1990s in their documentary, “The Fab Five,” that debuted Sunday night on ESPN. “I noticed there was a high level of bitterness there, particularly directed towards us,” former Duke guard Bobby Hurley said on Dan Patrick’s show today. “I wonder why? We were 3-0 against Michigan, so I can understand Jalen’s frustrations.”