Despite the widespread hype and excitement that surrounded Michigan basketball’s star-studded reveal of its new Jordan Brand apparel on Friday night, few enjoyed being in the building more than Jalen Rose.
“It was a lot of fun,” Rose said. “It brought back a lot of good memories. It’s always fun to see the fans, students, alums, so many people that love Michigan and sports. I’m a Detroit area kid, so I’ve always loved Michigan, so it was fun to be back tonight.”
As the event’s master of ceremonies, Rose was at the center of the action all night, enthusiastically introducing every member on the men’s and women’s basketball team’s respective rosters, interacting with the crowd and leading a Q&A panel with coaches John Beilein and Kim Barnes Arico.
But as much as he was having fun, Rose still had to thoughtfully remind everyone of the roller-coaster ride he’s been on to get to Friday.
Since the period of disassociation ended in May 2013 as a result of the Ed Martin scandal, the members of Michigan’s “Fab Five” — Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, Ray Jackson and Chris Webber — have struggled to reintegrate themselves within the Michigan athletic community and even reconcile among each other.
Rose had moments during Friday’s program where he may have let those frustrations get the best of him, including leading the crowd in a chant of “hang the banners,” alluding to the removal of the 1992 and 1993 Final Four banners from the rafters of Crisler Center as a part of Michigan’s self-imposed penalties from the scandal.
Speaking with the media following the event, Rose also voiced his disapproval of Michigan’s estranged relationship with current San Diego State coach Steve Fisher.
“How about a guy like Coach Fisher?” Rose said. “He won the only national championship at Michigan. He coached in two other Final Fours. And I don’t see his name anywhere. That’s not happening across the country. When I see (Kentucky coach John Calipari) go back to UMass or go back to Memphis, though they went on probation, he’s still adored. He’s still appreciated.”
“As much as we’re discussing the Fab Five, I have to allude to Coach Fisher, because it does hurt my heart that I don’t see his legacy still in this building in any way shape or form. That’s a travesty.”
Rose may have also added to the continued deterioration of his friendship with his former teammate Webber. Rose admitted he has no intentions of speaking for Webber anytime soon, and is in no rush to hear any sort of apology or peace offering from his former teammate.
“I speak for me,” Rose said “I’m the only person I can speak for — Juwan, Ray and Jimmy too. I don’t think one person has to apologize for what we accomplished. If that’s what they’re waiting for, if that what he’s waiting for then, that’s just semantics.”
Overall, Rose was pleased with how the night went and was genuine and positive when speaking about the nods that were made to the “Fab Five,” which included the showing of a highlight video and the appearance of current players wearing the black sock-black shoe combination, a stylistic hallmark of the quintet.
Though the wounds suffered between the “Fab Five” and Michigan haven’t healed completely yet, Friday showed there were actions being taken to mend some of the problems. Rose has yet to speak with Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel about finding a proper role as a prominent alum, but after a display like the one on Friday, that conversation may be happening sooner rather than later.
“It’s refreshing,” Rose said. “It’s a step in the right direction hopefully. It has a bittersweet feeling, somewhat. It’s the ‘you can come visit but you can’t spend the night’ type of thing, which is a little weary, but it’s fine and I think we’re making progress toward a reconciliation.”