Fab Five: Basketball, Trash Talk, the American Dream

( 18 )

Overview

Recounts the remarkable story of University of Michigan basketball players Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson, and chronicles their success in the NCAA tournaments of 1992 and 1993.

Fans of the New York Times bestseller A Season on the Brink will savor this in-depth look at Michigan's Fab Five, the all-freshmen starting basketball team that wowed the country and stormed through the 1992 NCAA college ...

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Fab Five: Basketball, Trash Talk, the American Dream

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Overview

Recounts the remarkable story of University of Michigan basketball players Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson, and chronicles their success in the NCAA tournaments of 1992 and 1993.

Fans of the New York Times bestseller A Season on the Brink will savor this in-depth look at Michigan's Fab Five, the all-freshmen starting basketball team that wowed the country and stormed through the 1992 NCAA college basketball tournament. 16 pages of photos.

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What People Are Saying

Amy Tan
I love this book. I've been telling all my friends 'you have to read this.' Mitch Albom was given a wonderful gift from his teacher Morrie Schwartz and now he has the great pleasure of auditing the same class. This is a true story that shines and makes you forever warmed by its afterglow.
M. Scott Peck
A beautifully written book of geat clarity and wisdom that lovingly captures the simplicity beyond life's complexities.
Robert Bly
This is a sweet book of man's love for his mentor. It has a stubborn honesty that nourishes the living.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446517348
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/20/2008
  • Pages: 388
  • Sales rank: 136,495
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Mitch  Albom
Mitch Albom
Mitch Albom introduced the wisdom of a man named Morrie with the moving account of the time he spent with him before his death, Tuesdays with Morrie -- a #1 bestseller that became nothing less than a phenomenon. Albom followed up the blockbuster success of Morrie with several novels that took his inspirational message to new -- and bestselling -- heights. He has also penned sports-oriented nonfiction, and his popular newspaper columns have been collected into anthologies.

Biography

You might call Mitch Albom a jock-of-all-trades. Before becoming one of America's most beloved sport commentators and columnists, Albom was an amateur boxer, a nightclub singer and pianist, and a stand-up comedian. He is a nationally syndicated fixture of radio and print, and has been featured as an analyst on ESPN. He has covered college football and college basketball in two successful nonfiction books, and the best of his articles have been collected in a series of anthologies called Live Albom. However, what catapulted Albom into the literary limelight was the mega-selling 1997 memoir, Tuesdays with Morrie, his first book to sidestep sports altogether..

Tuesdays... is a moving account of Albom's reconnection with his old Brandeis professor and college mentor, Morrie Schwartz. After learning Schwartz had been stricken with Lou Gehrig's disease, Albom sought him out in Boston, and throughout a long, harrowing year, they spent every Tuesday together. As he faced his inevitable death, Schwartz shared a lifetime of memories, regrets, fears, and philosophical insights with his former student. A story that could easily have toppled into maudlin sentimentality, the memoir succeeded in large part because of Albom's skillful writing. Published in 30 languages in 34 countries, the book remains an international bestseller.

In 2003, Albom forayed into fiction with The Five People You Meet in Heaven, the emotionally resonant story of an old man who dies, convinced his life has had no meaning -- only to discover that nothing could be further from the truth. It, too, scored a huge success for the author – as did his followup novel, For One Day More.

Good To Know

The Oprah Winfrey-produced version of Tuesdays with Morrie, starring Jack Lemmon and Hank Azaria, won 4 Emmy Awards and was the most-watched TV movie of 1999.

Before Albom was a household name, he was known on the comedy circuit as the warm-up act for Gabe "Welcome Back Kotter" Kaplan.

Albom is an enthusiastic philanthropist, having founded two charitable programs, the Dream Fund and A Time to Help.

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    1. Hometown:
      Franklin, Michigan
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 23, 1958
    2. Place of Birth:
      Passaic, New Jersey
    1. Education:
      B.A., Brandeis University, 1979; M.J., Columbia University, 1981; M.B.A., Columbia University, 1982

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
THE CURRICULUM 1
THE SYLLABUS 5
THE STUDENT 14
THE AUDIOVISUAL 18
THE ORIENTATION 26
THE CLASSROOM 32
TAKING ATTENDANCE 41
THE FIRST TUESDAY WE TALK ABOUT THE WORLD 48
THE SECOND TUESDAY WE TALK ABOUT FEELING SORRY FOR YOURSELF 55
THE THIRD TUESDAY WE TALK ABOUT REGRETS 62
THE AUDIOVISUAL, PART TWO 69
THE PROFESSOR 73
THE FOURTH TUESDAY WE TALK ABOUT DEATH 80
THE FIFTH TUESDAY WE TALK ABOUT FAMILY 90
THE SIXTH TUESDAY WE TALK ABOUT EMOTIONS 100
THE PROFESSOR, PART TWO 109
THE SEVENTH TUESDAY WE TALK ABOUT THE FEAR OF AGING 115
THE EIGHTH TUESDAY WE TALK ABOUT MONEY 123
THE NINTH TUESDAY WE TALK ABOUT HOW LOVE GOES ON 130
THE TENTH TUESDAY WE TALK ABOUT MARRIAGE 142
THE ELEVENTH TUESDAY WE TALK ABOUT OUR CULTURE 152
THE AUDIOVISUAL, PART THREE 160
THE TWELFTH TUESDAY WE TALK ABOUT FORGIVENESS 164
THE THIRTEENTH TUESDAY WE TALK ABOUT THE PERFECT DAY 171
THE FOURTEENTH TUESDAY WE SAY GOOD-BYE 181
GRADUATION 187
CONCLUSION 190
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First Chapter

Chapter One

The last class of my old professor's life took place once a week in his house, by a window in the study where he could watch a small hibiscus plant shed its pink leaves. The class met on Tuesdays. It began after breakfast. The subject was The Meaning of Life. It was taught from experience.

No grades were given, but there were oral exams each week. You were expected to respond to questions, and you were expected to pose questions of your own. You were also required to perform physical tasks now and then, such as lifting the professor's head to a comfortable spot on the pillow or placing his glasses on the bridge of his nose. Kissing him good-bye earned you extra credit.

No books were required, yet many topics were covered, including love, work, community, family, aging, forgiveness, and, finally, death. The last lecture was brief, only a few words.

A funeral was held in lieu of graduation.

Although no final exam was given, you were expected to produce one long paper on what was learned. That paper is presented here.

The last class of my old professor's life had only one student.

I was the student.

It is the late spring of 1979, a hot, sticky Saturday afternoon. Hundreds of us sit together, side by side, in rows of wooden folding chairs on the main campus lawn. We wear blue nylon robes. We listen impatiently to long speeches. When the ceremony is over, we throw our caps in the air, and we are officially graduated from college, the senior class of Brandeis University in the city of Waltham, Massachusetts. For many of us, the curtain has just come down on childhood.

Afterward, I find Morrie Schwartz, my favorite professor, and introduce him to my parents. He is a small man who takes small steps, as if a strong wind could, at any time, whisk him up into the clouds. In his graduation day robe, he looks like a cross between a biblical prophet and a Christmas elf. He has sparkling blue-green eyes, thinning silver hair that spills onto his forehead, big ears, a triangular nose, and tufts of graying eyebrows. Although his teeth are crooked and his lower ones are slanted back--as if someone had once punched them in--when he smiles it's as if you'd just told him the first joke on earth.

He tells my parents how I took every class he taught. He tells them, "You have a special boy here." Embarrassed, I look at my feet. Before we leave, I hand my professor a present, a tan briefcase with his initials on the front. I bought this the day before at a shopping mall. I didn't want to forget him. Maybe I didn't want him to forget me.

"Mitch, you are one of the good ones," he says, admiring the briefcase. Then he hugs me. I feel his thin arms around my back. I am taller than he is, and when he holds me, I feel awkward, older, as if I were the parent and he were the child.

He asks if I will stay in touch, and without hesitation I say, "Of course."

When he steps back, I see that he is crying.

CHAPTER TWO

The Syllabus

His death sentence came in the summer of 1994. Looking back, Morrie knew something bad was coming long before that. He knew it the day he gave up dancing.

He had always been a dancer, my old professor. The music didn't matter. Rock and roll, big band, the blues. He loved them all. He would close his eyes and with a blissful smile begin to move to his own sense of rhythm. It wasn't always pretty. But then, he didn't worry about a partner. Morrie danced by himself.

He used to go to this church in Harvard Square every Wednesday night for something called "Dance Free." They had flashing lights and booming speakers and Morrie would wander in among the mostly student crowd, wearing a white T-shirt and black sweatpants and a towel around his neck, and whatever music was playing, that's the music to which he danced. He'd do the lindy to Jimi Hendrix. He twisted and twirled, he waved his arms like a conductor on amphetamines, until sweat was dripping down the middle of his back. No one there knew he was a prominent doctor of sociology, with years of experience as a college professor and several well-respected books. They just thought he was some old nut.

Once, he brought a tango tape and got them to play it over the speakers. Then he commandeered the floor, shooting back and forth like some hot Latin lover. When he finished, everyone applauded. He could have stayed in that moment forever.

But then the dancing stopped.

He developed asthma in his sixties. His breathing became labored. One day he was walking along the Charles River, and a cold burst of wind left him choking for air. He was rushed to the hospital and injected with Adrenalin.

A few years later, he began to have trouble walking. At a birthday party for a friend, he stumbled inexplicably. Another night, he fell down the steps of a theater, startling a small crowd of people.

"Give him air!" someone yelled.

He was in his seventies by this point, so they whispered "old age" and helped him to his feet. But Morrie, who was always more in touch with his insides than the rest of us, knew something else was wrong. This was more than old age. He was weary all the time. He had trouble sleeping. He dreamt he was dying.

He began to see doctors. Lots of them. They tested his blood. They tested his urine. They put a scope up his rear end and looked inside his intestines. Finally, when nothing could be found, one doctor ordered a muscle biopsy, taking a small piece out of Morrie's calf. The lab report came back suggesting a neurological problem, and Morrie was brought in for yet another series of tests. In one of those tests, he sat in a special seat as they zapped him with electrical current--an electric chair, of sorts--and studied his neurological responses.

"We need to check this further," the doctors said, looking over his results.

"Why?" Morrie asked. "What is it?"

"We're not sure. Your times are slow."

His times were slow? What did that mean?

Finally, on a hot, humid day in August 1994, Morrie and his wife, Charlotte, went to the neurologist's office, and he asked them to sit before he broke the news: Morrie had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Lou Gehrig's disease, a brutal, unforgiving illness of the neurological system.

There was no known cure.

"How did I get it?" Morrie asked.

Nobody knew.

"Is it terminal?"

Yes.

"So I'm going to die?"

Yes, you are, the doctor said. I'm very sorry.

He sat with Morrie and Charlotte for nearly two hours, patiently answering their questions. When they left, the doctor gave them some information on ALS, little pamphlets, as if they were opening a bank account. Outside, the sun was shining and people were going about their business. A woman ran to put money in the parking meter. Another carried groceries. Charlotte had a million thoughts running through her mind: How much time do we have left? How will we manage? How will we pay the bills?

My old professor, meanwhile, was stunned by the normalcy of the day around him. Shouldn't the world stop? Don't they know what has happened to me?

But the world did not stop, it took no notice at all, and as Morrie pulled weakly on the car door, he felt as if he were dropping into a hole.

Now what? he thought.

As my old professor searched for answers, the disease took him over, day by day, week by week. He backed the car out of the garage one morning and could barely push the brakes. That was the end of his driving.

He kept tripping, so he purchased a cane. That was the end of his walking free.

He went for his regular swim at the YMCA, but found he could no longer undress himself. So he hired his first home care worker--a theology student named Tony--who helped him in and out of the pool, and in and out of his bathing suit. In the locker room, the other swimmers pretended not to stare. They stared anyhow. That was the end of his privacy.

In the fall of 1994, Morrie came to the hilly Brandeis campus to teach his final college course. He could have skipped this, of course. The university would have understood. Why suffer in front of so many people? Stay at home. Get your affairs in order. But the idea of quitting did not occur to Morrie.

Instead, he hobbled into the classroom, his home for more than thirty years. Because of the cane, he took a while to reach the chair. Finally, he sat down, dropped his glasses off his nose, and looked out at the young faces who stared back in silence.

"My friends, I assume you are all here for the Social Psychology class. I have been teaching this course for twenty years, and this is the first time I can say there is a risk in taking it, because I have a fatal illness. I may not live to finish the semester.

"If you feel this is a problem, I understand if you wish to drop the course."

He smiled.

And that was the end of his secret.

ALS is like a lit candle: it melts your nerves and leaves your body a pile of wax. Often. it begins with the legs and works its way up. You lose control of your thigh muscles, so that you cannot support yourself standing. You lose control of your trunk muscles, so that you cannot sit up straight. By the end, if you are still alive, you are breathing through a tube in a hole in your throat, while your soul, perfectly awake, is imprisoned inside a limp husk, perhaps able to blink, or cluck a tongue, like something from a science fiction movie, the man frozen inside his own flesh. This takes no more than five years from the day you contract the disease.

Morrie's doctors guessed he had two years left.

Morrie knew it was less.

But my old professor had made a profound decision, one he began to construct the day he came out of the doctor's office with a sword hanging over his head. Do I wither up and disappear, or do I make the best of my time left? he had asked himself.

He would not wither. He would not be ashamed of dying.

Instead, he would make death his final project, the center point of his days. Since everyone was going to die, he could be of great value, right? He could be research. A human textbook. Study me in my slow and patient demise. Watch what happens to me. Learn with me.

Morrie would walk that final bridge between life and death, and narrate the trip.

The fall semester passed quickly. The pills increased. Therapy became a regular routine. Nurses came to his house to work with Morrie's withering legs, to keep the muscles active, bending them back and forth as if pumping water from a well. Massage specialists came by once a week to try to soothe the constant, heavy stiffness he felt. He met with meditation teachers, and closed his eyes and narrowed his thoughts until his world shrunk down to a single breath, in and out, in and out.

One day, using his cane, he stepped onto the curb and fell over into the street. The cane was exchanged for a walker. As his body weakened, the back and forth to the bathroom became too exhausting, so Morrie began to urinate into a large beaker. He had to support himself as he did this, meaning someone had to hold the beaker while Morrie filled it.

Most of us would be embarrassed by all this, especially at Morrie's age. But Morrie was not like most of us. When some of his close colleagues would visit, he would say to them, "Listen, I have to pee. Would you mind helping? Are you okay with that?"

Often, to their own surprise, they were.

In fact, he entertained a growing stream of visitors. He had discussion groups about dying, what it really meant, how societies had always been afraid of it without necessarily understanding it. He told his friends that if they really wanted to help him, they would treat him not with sympathy but with visits, phone calls, a sharing of their problems--the way they had always shared their problems, because Morrie had always been a wonderful listener.

For all that was happening to him, his voice was strong and inviting, and his mind was vibrating with a million thoughts. He was intent on proving that the word "dying" was not synonymous with "useless."

The New Year came and went. Although he never said it to anyone, Morrie knew this would be the last year of his life. He was using a wheelchair now, and he was fighting time to say all the things he wanted to say to all the people he loved. When a colleague at Brandeis died suddenly of a heart attack, Morrie went to his funeral. He came home depressed.

"What a waste," he said. "All those people saying all those wonderful things, and Irv never got to hear any of it."

Morrie had a better idea. He made some calls. He chose a date. And on a cold Sunday afternoon, he was joined in his home by a small group of friends and family for a "living funeral." Each of them spoke and paid tribute to my old professor. Some cried. Some laughed. One woman read a poem:

"My dear and loving cousin ...
Your ageless heart
as you move through time, layer on layer,
tender sequoia ..."

Morrie cried and laughed with them. And all the heartfelt things we never get to say to those we love, Morrie said that day. His "living funeral" was a rousing success.

Only Morrie wasn't dead yet.

In fact, the most unusual part of his life was about to unfold.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 18 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2001

    The best to ever come!!!

    The Fab Five changed the way college basketball is and was being played. They took basketball back to where it started for most of the college players, the streets. With the bald heads and baggy shorts, every young kid did not want to be like Mike, they wanted to be like th Fab 5. This was a great book and I recommend it to anyone who loves college basketball. Remember, because of the Fab 5, many teams, including the NBA started to change the uniform, black tube socks, etc. Thanks Chris, Jalen, Juwan, Jimmy and my high school teammate Ray for all the wonderful memories.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 31, 2011

    Fab Five? Fab Joke.

    No matter how you look at it, they never won a NCAA National Championship Title. Both college basketball superhouses (that everyone loves to hate) Duke and Carolina beat the "fab five," Duke winning the National Title. Without even getting into the topic of dirty sports/cheating, it is quite clear the only thing the so called fab five really did was make a much needed change in the college hoops fashion sense...and for that, I truly thank them.

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2001

    Fab Five-Greatest Recruiting Class Ever??

    They were known as the Fab Five, the greatest recruited class of high-school basketball players a university program had ever seen. Led by high school standout Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson comprised the team that lead Michigan to the National Championship in back to back years in the early 90's. Mitch Albom's book does well to chronicle how this particular group of individuals came to be, and how they coped with the constant pressure of being a star athlete at a major university. The book provides wonderful insight to the players, uncovering the warmth, desire, fear, and shyness that they contained, despite their brash and arggogant style in the public eye. Albom's book leaves the reader to decide for oneself if this group was the greatest class ever, but leaves little doubt that they were worthy to be proclaimed as the Fab Five.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2014

    F

    Get game

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2013

    Ty

    Hi u here?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2012

    Great Inside Look

    This is a great book. Jalen, Chris, Juwan, Jimmy, and Ray were one of the best recruiting classes, cheating or not. Their lives were not as easy as basketball, and Albom does a great job of really reminding us that, even though they were good, the Fab Five were always a "T" away.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2012

    Jordyn

    Hey next res.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2012

    They are the best high school playeers eva :)

    iLove the FAB FIVE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2012

    Cool

    Good book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2012

    Lilj

    I thouht the lebron fab 5

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 10, 2011

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    Posted December 30, 2010

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    Posted March 30, 2011

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