Five Lessons from the Fab Five


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On Sunday night, ESPN did a special on the 1991-1993 University of Michigan basketball team known as the Fab Five. The team was made up of five starting freshmen, who were all top 100 high school prospects (4 of them were in the top 10).

They stormed on the NCAA scene by their signature long shorts, black shoes, black socks, and their swagger. They were the only team that had five freshmen starting for the 1992 NCAA championship game; and then they went on to the championship game in 1993 as sophomores.

Even though the Fab Five never won an NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball championship game, they left their mark in college basketball history.

I really wanted the boys to watch the ESPN’s special on these guys because I wanted to fuel their passion for basketball. I wasn’t sure if they would be able to stay up to watch the documentary, but after convincing Christina to let the boys stay up, we watched it together.

There were so many teaching moments throughout the program – good lessons that I wanted to reinforce in the boys. Here are five lessons I came away from watching the Fab Five program:

1) Shared experiences shape you. The people who are closest to you are the ones that you have shared some significance experiences together. It was amazing to see that even after 20 years of their Fab Five experience, they still consider themselves as “brothers.” This is how I feel about some of the people that I have had shared experiences with – they are still some of my closest friends. If you want to build a strong relationship, go through things together.

2) Learn to get each other’s backs. There were some key moments throughout the documentary where you noticed how they got each other’s backs. With all the pressures that they faced (remember, they were only 18 years old), they were able to watch out for each other. They were literally like family to one another. It was a powerful witness of community. If you want to attract people to your community, learn to love one another.

3) Adversity brings you together. I was a bit shocked to learn about all the hate mail that they received during their tenure as the Fab Five. I was especially blown away as all the racist mails were coming from University of Michigan alumni. It was another good reminder that we still have racism, no matter what position or stance a university holds. But it was through these adversities, the Fab Five were able to come together in unity. In fact, it was one of the fuels for their success. If you want to achieve great things, don’t shy away from adversities or difficulties because it might be the very thing that will help elevate you to the next level.

4) Our individual actions affect the team. I think the saddest part of the documentary was when some of the Fab Five guys shared how their achievement were wiped out because of some bad choices by a few of the teammates. It is a good reminder that when we are part of a team, a person’s actions will affect the whole team. This is how the concept of the team works – there is no “I” in the word “Team.” If you want to function as a team, you have to look beyond yourself and look out for the interest of the whole team.

5) You can make a difference no matter what people say. It was surprising to note how much the Fab Five literally changed the face of NCAA basketball. Not only with the new “look” (thank God we don’t have any more of those tight shorts), but now there are freshmen sensations that can come right out of high school and make a difference on the court. The Fab Five had a love for the game and love for one another, which helped them to change a whole generation of basketball players in the future. If you want to make a difference, you have to rise above the circumstances and passionately do what you were created to do.

Spiritual ENTREPRENEUR, Church EQUIPPER, Leadership EDUCATOR, Ideas EXPERIMENTER & Global EXPLORER who is trying to transform lives and transform the world.
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