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Introduction Paragraph:

Thesis: The University of Michigan’s “Fab Five” basketball team, defied racial stereotypes as they revolutionized basketball on and off the court with their new style, as they are still leaving their footprints today.

Rest of paragraph: These five freshmen revolutionized the way basketball is played and their style on and off the court made them instant commodities. With their baggy shorts, black socks, and black shoes, the stereotype of what a basketball player should be, feared the “Fab Five”. What, then, was considered odd and even strange to many people, then, is the norm now due to the effect the “Fab Five” had on popular culture.

First Paragraph:

Topic Sentence: The “Fab Five” changed popular culture as they were the first team to start five freshmen, in a generation that only started one.

Background/ItE: In 1973, the NCAA lifted the ban that allowed freshmen to play in intercollegiate competitions, but it wasn’t until 1991, that the University of Michigan men’s basketball team decided to start five freshmen. But these were no ordinary freshmen. Head coach at the time, Steve Fisher, recruited five of the best high school basketball players in the 1991 class. Players included Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson.

Evidence: “They had a quality about them and it’s cockiness, but it’s also a self-assurance and a way about them… as the season went on, maybe it was a character, they just found a way to back up what they said they were going to do and they said a lot of things.”

Analysis: At the beginning of the season, only Rose, Webber, and Howard were the freshmen to start as Coach Fisher believed they needed the help of some of the veterans to guide the team, it quickly became clear by the bond these freshmen built that they were poised to lead a University. In the first game where all five freshmen started, vs. the University of Notre Dame, they won and scored every single point for the entire team. From then on, there was no looking back. The team finished with a 20-8 record and made it all the way to the National Championship to play the defending National Champions, the Duke Blue Devils. The Wolverines had faced Duke earlier in the season, where they had lost in overtime. Each member of the “Fab Five”, despised Duke and Coach K as they all came from wealthy families with each parent in the mix and the “Fab Five” came from low-income households in rough areas, where for most of their childhoods they struggled for money. Duke according to Jalen Rose, “Are who the world accepts and we are who the world hates.” This is because Duke followed the cultural norms, that the “Fab Five” defied. Everyone saw Duke as the “good guys”, whereas the “Fab Five” and the Michigan Wolverines were looked at as the “bad guys”. The media first saw the “Fab Five” as “dangerous black men” who had no discipline and never followed the rules. This was far from the truth as these young men dealt with the same struggles as any other college students, along with balancing their lives in the spotlight of being top collegiate basketball players. In a close National Championship game, the Wolverines lost, but the world set new expectations for these young stars.

Second Paragraph:

Topic Sentence: The “Fab Five” became known for their baggy shorts, black socks, and black shoes and while this brought individuality, it also brought the cruel reality of the business world.

Background/ItE: Going into their freshman year, each member of the “Fab Five” despised wearing the “short shorts” as they wanted to feel comfortable. Coach Fisher agreed as long as it wouldn’t interfere with their play. It wasn’t until their sophomore season, that the “Fab Five” decided to wear black socks and created the trend of wearing black socks while playing basketball. Prior to the “Fab Five”, black socks were only worn by old people, but the “Fab Five” flipped these trends.

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Evidence: “The team’s choice to wear baggy shorts and black socks in an effort to claim something as their own.”

  • Analysis: Many of these players came from low-income neighborhoods and struggled for money and food for parts of their lives. Starting the trend of baggy shorts and black socks, allowed the group to claim something as their own. With the bond that these five basketball players made, they were able to build a relationship that filled the void of the family they never fully had.
  • Background/ItE: With all these new trends in style and fashion, companies such as Nike and even the University of Michigan made millions of dollars, while the “Fab Five” and the rest of the team, never made one penny, as college athletes could not get paid for their likeness.
  • Evidence: “Perception of our lives is that we were living like rock stars, and we weren’t living that lifestyle, that’s just wasn’t want it was. We were eating cereal, some nights and cooking hot dogs, that was our lifestyle. We live just like every college student.” Said Ray Jackson.
  • Analysis: As freshmen, the “Fab Five” felt on top of the world with no expectations since they were just young kids, but as sophomores, there was more pressure forced on them, than they ever faced in their lives, as companies constantly promoted the “Fab Five”. During all of this time and the amount of commercials and coverage of the team, the players never made any money and got their first look at the harsh business world that made every penny they could out of the “Fab Five”.

Third Paragraph:

Topic Sentence: While you may not have even noticed it, a lot of how basketball is played today and the style people wear on and off the court is due to the “Fab Five”.

Background/ItE: The “Fab Five” changed the norms of the rotations that teams play in. The Michigan Wolverines and Coach Fisher were the first team in NCAA history to start five freshmen. While today, teams don’t always start five freshmen, a majority of top-tier collegiate team starters are freshmen as most go one-and-done and go off to their pro careers, and the bench is made up of the upperclassmen who aren’t as good of players and need to develop more than the underclassmen already have.

Evidence: “One of the reasons he [Coach Fisher] didn’t want to start all five of them was that he didn’t want to lose the rest of the team. Because if you’re basically saying the youngest guys on the team are the best, what do they have to play for?”. Said Mitch Albom.

Analysis: The upperclassmen decided to not have prejudices against the freshmen as they decided to play as a team and help the team in any way they could. To this day, collegiate teams are still playing some underclassmen over some upperclassmen, it no longer matters on age, only skill set and how much you can help the team.

Discussion: Today, if you look around at the kids or people playing basketball and they are wearing socks and shoes that are any other color than white, this is a result of how much the “Fab Five” sparked a culture shock that led to a worldwide change in style that is still being implemented today.

Conclusion Paragraph:

Thesis: The University of Michigan’s “Fab Five” basketball team, defied racial stereotypes as they revolutionized basketball on and off the court with their new style, and they are still leaving their footprints today.

Rest of Paragraph: The “Fab Five” were everything that white Americans were against, as they felt they were ruining basketball and had a poor influence on the younger generation that grew up watching them. This, however, was far from the truth as the “Fab Five” reversed trends of the youth and showed the younger generation how kids from low-income neighborhoods can have as great of an impact on society. 

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