Fab 5’s magic hasn’t diminished
IT'S been "33 -- 33 years? Thirty-four years?" John Penebacker asked.
And it's still going. Still breathing. Forever.
"It can't be forgotten," Dwight Holiday said. "They're the things that made us the people that we are. The relationships that we have today."
"We thank you for keeping us alive," Bob Nash said.
Forever. They'll live on forever. They'll always be the Fabulous Five.
"It's something we will never, ever outlive," Al Davis said this week at a reunion of four of them -- Jerome Freeman lives in Lancaster, Calif. -- at the Honolulu Quarterback Club.
"I'm here with my teammates," Davis said, and you could feel it was true. They're still his teammates. Always. They'll be forever linked.
Yes, it has been more than three decades since that magical run in 1970-71 and 1971-72 when Hawaii's basketball Beatles went to the NIT and NCAA, rocked the HIC, captured the imagination of an entire state. It was the feel-good story of all feel-good stories. And you know what? It still is. It's still going. All you have to do is say the name "Fabulous Five."
"After all these years," Penebacker said. "Amazing. My dentist. He's cleaning my teeth. 'You came to my school, Pauoa Valley. I was in the second grade.' I thought to myself, 'This guy is cleaning my teeth now!' "
He went to the doctor recently, and his doctor pulled out an autograph from one of those school visits so many years ago!
It lives on. They're still doing things together. Still embraced by the public. Still a team.
Magic like that doesn't just fade away.
"First day of practice, we looked around, and first you got an ugly coach ... here we are in Hawaii, wondering what we got ourselves into and practicing in probably the worst facility in America at the time, Klum Gym," Nash said.
"Just like anything else, we started to grow on each other. I mean, we had lots of fights. I chased John out of the gym many a time."
"You never caught me," Penebacker said.
"And he's still running," Nash said. He is. When he turned 50, 11 years ago, he ran 50 miles to celebrate. He's running for the Board of Education today.
"It was love at first sight," Nash said. "We all loved each other. Dwight, Al and Jerome, they lived together for most of their careers here. John and I lived across the street from each other and worked for Y. Higa moving company toting pianos and refrigerators."
"If the open man is open he gets it," Davis said. "It wasn't like one guy was trying to be the star. If he's in front of me, that's the way I was raised, if he's in front of me he gets it. You know, and I'm going to try to run in front of him so he can give it back to me."
They called each other by their middle names, in those days. They still do.
"We're very close even today," Davis said.
It was spontaneous combustion, this magic. UH athletic director Paul Durham came up with some recruiting money and coach Red Rocha found them, somehow. And it was a miracle. The best Rainbows team of all time just showed up.
"I was going to school in Texas," Nash said. "(Rocha) sent a film for me to watch to see if I liked it and if I liked it he would come in, show me a tape of Hawaii. And I'm one of the few guys who didn't even come on a recruiting trip."
"I didn't," Davis said.
Holiday shook his head. No, him, either.
"You guys didn't come on a recruiting trip?"
"Think about that now," Nash said. "The five us are here, we didn't come on a recruiting trip!"
Leaps of faith. Sight unseen. This is how this happened. That's how they came together.
You should see them together. Has it really been 34 years?
"We're trying to figure out if Dwight Holiday is using Grecian Formula," Penebacker said.
They're still teammates. It's still going.
"I changed my niece's wedding to watch you guys! I left the party early!" a man couldn't help but shout.
Anyone who saw them is young again just hearing their names.
It's still going, still breathing. They're still here. They'll always be the Fabulous Five.
"Like Al said, it's something that we'll never forget. But it hasn't stopped. It continues," Holiday said.
"It'll live on forever," Les Keiter said.