Mike Brey, Former Coach K. Asst Comments on Fab 5 Controversy



With both St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness upon us, it’s a big day for the #2 seeded in the Chicago Regional Notre Dame Fighting Irish. ND being a popular pick to reach the Final Four, and today being the day everyone wears green, a lot of people want to be “Irish.”

ND college basketball coach Mike Brey mentioned St. Patrick’s Day as he took the United Center media podium today dressed in green. The final question he was asked, prompted one of the most interesting back-and-forths of the press conference.

By Paul M. Banks


Because of the documentary that aired Sunday night on ESPN, “The Fab 5,” one of the biggest sports related topics of water cooler conversation has been the Michigan Wolverines freshmen that took the college basketball world by storm 20 years after they were the most talked about and watched team in college hoops.

It goes without saying that any “documentary” produced by ESPN and “starring” one of their personalities in Jalen Rose would be a bit biased. The program only scratched the minimal surface of the corruption and rule-infractions that went on, and of course the film was as self-aggrandizing as possible. Chris Webber, the most celebrated player on the court, and the most vilified in scandal of the fab 5, refused to take part in the filming, so it’s tough to get a balanced read on what really happened without him.

But it was very entertaining, and it’s certainly inspired a lot of talk.

Grant Hill, referred to in the documentary as an “Uncle Tom,” went so far as to write an editorial in the New York Times expressing his disappointment. Bobby Hurley responded by saying Rose would not even crack the starting five at Duke back then.

And today, at the second and third round of the NCAA Championship, this came up:

Q. Did you see the Fab Five documentary and wonder what you thought of it. And if you think that that has anything to do with what people would call a great team or not today.

MIKE BREY: Well, I lived the Fab Five documentary. I was an assistant at Duke at the time. I did not see the documentary, but my son mentioned to tell me I had more hair, I wore a tie, and my waistline was better, when he saw it the other night.

But it was funny. Carleton Scott came on the practice floor, and he watched it Monday or Tuesday, and he said, coach, you know, those guys didn’t — they couldn’t plug into that era, our group. And I said to him, the reason you wear big shorts right now and black socks now is because of those guys. And he goes, ‘Yeah, I never really thought of that.’ Those guys started the whole trend.
It was really a unique time, and certainly to be at Duke at that time, there were some great match-ups. As an assistant, I recruited some of those kids. But they definitely had a legacy on things. We were talking last night at dinner in the championship game, I just remembered, just their size, how big they were. The flashback I had was you throw it into (Christian) Laettner in the post and (Chris) Webber and Juwan Howard clamped it, doubled it. I think he threw the first two passes over press row trying to throw it out because he was so big. They were just imposing bodies on the floor there. They definitely had their legacy, but the kids today don’t even know. It was interesting to hear Carleton say that.

Q. What about the Uncle Tom part they had?

MIKE BREY: I think Grant Hill answered that great with his letter. I think that was unfortunate. I’m sure Jalen Rose would like to reel that back in, quite frankly, and he should.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest webzine. He’s also a regular contributor to the Tribune’s Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

He also does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports Radio.com



  1. Nick Grays says

    Well said by Brey. I loved Grant Hill’s response!

    Who knew Jalen Rose and the Fab Five would come out of the this looking worse when it was a complete love affair of a documentary. I loved the players (primarily Webber and Rose) complaining about the school making money off of them, come on guys, it’s college sports and it’s not like you didn’t know you were going to hit the jackpot in the NBA.

    The immaturity portrayed by Rose in the film was a perfect example of why Grant Hill is 100 times more respected as a player and a person.

  2. paulmbanks says

    agreed. the fab 5 knew coming into school how the arrangment was. Webber had people telling him what a phenom he was YEARS before he got to Ann Arbor. I’m sure someone told him that the school will get paid and you won’t.

    I think Webber looks eveen worse cuz he didn’t even show up for the making of the “documentary” when the other four did. He must really have something to hide because the format and platform was about as favorable for him as a Fox News show is to a Republican

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