FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER
Michigan’s Fab Five will reunite publicly April 4 in Detroit for the first time since their final game 16 years ago.
The event, which has no affiliation with the Final Four, will act a fund-raiser for the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
Because it is being held at the Motor City Casino and was initiated by the five players themselves, the NCAA has no connection to it.
But the basketball players -- Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson -- chose the setting because the attention focused on the Final Four would provide a chance to raise money for the museum that has a history of contributing to the city’s youth.
While the Michigan athletic department has a longstanding relationship with a few of the players -- Rose was honored at a game last year for his charity work, King is a U-M broadcaster, and Howard has made appearances at the U-M basketball summer camp -- there are no Fab Five-era records nor banners at Michigan, and a similar reunion could not occur on campus because of Webber’s association with booster Ed Martin.
That, along with the later involvement of three other U-M players, drew sanctions for the basketball program. Webber, who accepted a loan of $280,000 from Martin while still in high school, is not allowed to formally associate with the university until 2013.
“It’s no shame, what was said was said, what was alleged was alleged,” Rose said when he was honored by U-M last February. “But ultimately, with everybody, time heals all wounds. In my opinion, it’s going to be time to move on eventually.
"That’s how life happens, that’s how situations happen. I just hope I’m not in a wheelchair walking with a cane or in a gravesite when it happens (at Michigan). I want to be here to see it.”
The Fab Five phenomenon -- having five freshman starters reach the NCAA title game in 1992 and do it again as sophomores in 1993 -- was sullied by the scandal.
The museum’s association is not a surprise, given its relationship with Webber. It hosted his extensive collection of African-American historical artifacts and documents in 2007.
The players have reunited yearly, but in private. This will be a public opportunity for fans to connect with the group.