BY Todd Dybas 02:44PM 03/19/2011

Duke, Michigan show won’t just be on the court

Being asked about the Fab Five documentary has stirred up Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, who says the film has nothing to do with Sunday’s game against Michigan or anything else going on at the NCAA Tournament.

Michigan's "Fab Five" of, from left, Jimmy King, Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Ray Jackson and Juwan Howard (not pictured) are stirring memories. / Wikimedia Commons

CHARLOTTE — Both top-seeded Duke and eighth-seeded Michigan routed second-round opponents Friday. Duke blasted Hampton 87-45 and Michigan likely ended Bruce Pearl’s time as coach at Tennessee with a 75-45 shellacking.

One issue percolating between the schools are the comments of former Michigan star Jalen Rose in the documentary he helped produce about the Fab Five which aired on ESPN last Sunday.

Rose, who grew up in inner city Detroit, said the following of Duke:

“I hated Duke and I hated everything Duke stood for. Schools like Duke didn’t recruit players like me. I felt like they only recruited black players that were Uncle Toms.”

Obviously, that did not sit well the many, particularly former Duke star Grant Hill. Hill wrote an expansive response for the New York Times. He opened by saying he has known members of Michigan’s Fab Five since he was 13 years old. He also wrote other plaudits. Then he said:

“It was a sad and somewhat pathetic turn of events, therefore, to see friends narrating this interesting documentary about their moment in time and calling me a bitch and worse, calling all black players at Duke “Uncle Toms” and, to some degree, disparaging my parents for their education, work ethic and commitment to each other and to me.”

Duke point guard Nolan Smith, who is African-American, and Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski were both asked Thursday about the comments. Neither responded, though Krzyzewski alluded to the question with generalities when answering later questions during his time with the media. He emphasized that nothing outside playing the opposition in Charlotte had an influence over whether Duke would win or lose in the tournament.

But this topic did not go away Saturday. With the schools once again playing each other, Smith, who watched the documentary, was asked again if he was bothered by how Duke was portrayed in the film.

“Not at all,” Smith said. “You know, I don’t even know what an Uncle Tom is. Somebody give me the definition, I’d be delighted but — I don’t pay attention to that. Just ready to play tomorrow’s game.”

Krzyzewski, who said he has not seen the documentary, was again terse when asked if the movie had any influence on Sunday’s game.

“There’s nothing,” Krzyzewski said. ”We’re coaching against a great university, a great coach and this team. It really has absolutely nothing to do with this game and does not — if I have to be motivated by something else for an NCAA — this is my 101st NCAA game. Do you think I need motivation from a documentary?”

Kzryzewski was then asked if he had any memories of the rivalry with Michigan during the time the Fab Five was there, from 1991-93.

“None. I have none.”

Then, he corrected himself.

“I do have one,” Kzryzewski said. “I think we won the National Championship two of those years.”

Of course, he’s right. The Blue Devils won in 1991 and ‘92. In the latter, they dispatched the Fab Five 71-51. Much like Kzryzewski did again Saturday.


  • Should be a good game….. for about five minutes, then Michigan is toast.

  • jerry

    Even though I hate both Duke and Michigan, I was glad to read something in SPNW that had nothing to do with northwest sports. This town is kind of lean sportswise.