Jalen Rose sure knows how to steal the spotlight.

It’s been nearly two decades since his knee-length shorts, black socks and trash-talking attitude were front and center at Crisler Arena, but the former Fab Five point guard is still hard to miss, even in the middle of a Michigan-Michigan State basketball game.

He wasn’t exactly sitting front and center — “We gotta play for the Pistons to get front-row seats!” Rose said with a laugh — courtside at Crisler Arena Tuesday night, but in a bright red velour suit and an ear-to-ear smile, Rose certainly stood out.

The ESPN cameras loved him, cutting to shots of his jubilation and dismay throughout the game, and the Crisler crowd gave him a standing ovation when he was honored for his acts of philanthropy, including his foundation’s Rose Garden and scholarship endowment at the University.

Rose, who said that he’s watched nearly all of the Michigan basketball team’s games this year, knows how badly the Wolverines needed to win on Tuesday. Playing the optimist, Rose still holds hope that Michigan can not only make the tournament, but also get past the first or second round.

“You want to have progress,” he said. “We got to the tournament last year, but we lost to Oklahoma. Hopefully, we can go a step further.”

It’s no accident the word “we” kept slipping out of Rose’s mouth when he talked about the Michigan basketball program. Rose, who left Michigan for the NBA after his junior season in 1994, has played basketball all over the nation in the 16 years since he’s been gone. But he still says that Ann Arbor feels like home.

It’s also not far from his actual hometown, Detroit.

These days, the star-studded combination of junior Manny Harris and senior DeShawn Sims, both Detroit natives, draws comparisons to Rose and Chris Webber, the Fab Five’s dominant duo from Detroit. Harris and Sims are the Wolverines’ first Detroit-based wrecking crew since Rose and Webber.

“Absolutely, I’m happy to see Manny, I’m happy to see DeShawn,” said Rose, who last visited Ann Arbor when Harris was a freshman. “They’re both playing well, doing their thing.”

In his three-year career at Michigan, Rose tallied 1788 points, 478 rebounds, 401 assists and 119 steals. He went on to play for six different NBA teams, and currently works as a basketball analyst for ESPN.

At halftime of Tuesday’s game against Michigan State, Rose’s in-game analysis was spot-on. And actually, it was a pretty accurate description of the Wolverines’ play all season.

“They’re playing hard, they’re playing hard,” Rose said when Michigan led 27-25 at the half. “Gotta knock down a couple of threes, but other than that, I think we’re in good shape.”

The Wolverines ended up suffering a one-point loss to the Spartans. Of all people, Rose understands the Michigan-Michigan State rivalry — and how painful a loss to the Spartans can be.

When asked about his favorite rivalry moment from the three years he played in it, he didn’t hesitate. It was a 73-69 victory in East Lansing, and Rose made sure the Spartan crowd wouldn’t forget it.

“When we won at Michigan State, and I got a chance to sit on the ‘S’ at half court,” Rose said with a laugh.

It makes sense that he’d love that, too. Once more, he’s Jalen Rose, front and center.

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