NBA

How Did Michigan’s Fab Five Fare in the NBA?

These days, it seems like super teams are everywhere in the NBA. LeBron James infamously linked up with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami; now, he shares the court with Anthony Davis. In the early 1990s, though, the University of Michigan boasted its own super-team: the Fab Five.

While those players, Jimmy King, Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Ray Jackson, Juwan Howard, made their name in college, every basketball player dreams of making it to the NBA. So how did the Fab Five do in the pros?

The Fab Five’s time at Michigan

Every year, NCAA basketball programs around the country compete to land the best recruits. In 1991, however, the University of Michigan found unprecedented success, bringing the Fab Five to Ann Arbor.

The five players, of course, were Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King, Ray Jackson, Juwan Howard. While the freshman didn’t begin the season as the team’s starting five, they became the first unit in February; after that point, they were inseparable.

During the 1991-92 NCAA campaign, Webber, Rose, King, Jackson, and Howard cumulatively averaged 58.7 points, 26.8 rebounds, and 12 assists per game; they carried the Wolverines to the National Championship game but fell to Christian Laettner’s Duke Blue Devils 71-51. While that wasn’t the end to the season that anyone envisioned, the Fab Five still made history, becoming the group of five freshmen to start a title game.

The next year, the Fab Five took another shot at the title. While their numbers improved with another year of experience under their collective belt, the season had the same result. The Wolverines reached the championship game but lost to the University of North Carolina; Chris Webber infamously tried to call a time out when his team had none remaining, costing his team a chance to tie or win the game.

Jimmy King and Ray Jackson never found NBA success

After two seasons in college, the Fab Five broke up. Chris Webber entered the 1993 NBA draft; the next season, Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard joined him in the pros.

Jimmy King and Ray Jackson were the last two members of the Fab Five left at Michigan. While they both attempted to make it in the NBA, neither man had much success.

King was drafted by the Toronto Raptors and spent one season north of the border; he then joined the Denver Nuggets, but only played one game. His NBA career lasted 64 games, and the guard averaged 4.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per outing. Jackson never made an NBA squad and spent a season in the Continental Basketball Association before calling it a career.

The rest of the Fab Five’s professional careers

While Jimmy King and Ray Jackson never made it big, the rest of the Fab Five all found work in the NBA. Chris Webber was the best of the three, but Juwan Howard and Jalen Rose weren’t bums sitting on the end of the bench.

After being selected first overall in 1993, Webber established himself as one of the NBA’s best big men. He earned Rookie of the Year honors during his first professional season and appeared in five All-Star games; he played 831 total games, averaging 20.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per night.

While Rose and Howard’s careers weren’t as impressive from a statistical perspective, they both had impressive careers. The former man was a capable swingman who averaged more than 20 points per game in his prime; the latter was fundamentally sound, capable of thriving offensive and defensively on the block. Howard also spent 18 seasons in the league, finally winning two championships with the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013.

While their NCAA success has since been vacated, Michigan’s Fab Five changed the course of basketball history. Above all, though, they were a group of talented basketball players.