There is much talk heading into Michigan’s national championship date with Louisville on Monday on whether or not Chris Webber will attend the game. There have been pleas from fellow Fab Five members, as well as anyone else with a keyboard for Webber to be at the game in Atlanta, where he lives. But should anybody be surprised that Webber is not so receptive to the Michigan reunion?
Webber was great at Michigan, with the Fab Five in 1992 and 1993. Those were two of the best years in Wolverines basketball history, reaching two title games, while changing the basketball culture in America. Webber was a superstar, along with Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson.
Unfortunately, his time at Michigan did not end as well as anyone would have expected or hoped for. Michigan lost their second consecutive national title game, to North Carolina in 1993, in the final game of Webber’s career. That game, however, has been remembered for Webber’s blunder, calling a timeout when Michigan did not have any left, resulting in a technical foul, clinching the loss for Michigan.
The last straw of the Webber-Michigan relationship happened when the Ed Martin scandal broke in 2003. Webber, it was revealed, had lied to a grand jury about accepting illicit payments from Martin, during his recruitment and time at Michigan. As a result, the Fab Five’s Final Four trips were vacated, the NCAA’s bewildering way of erasing history.
More importantly, in terms of Webber, the University of Michigan enacted a 10-year period where Webber could not be associated with the university. Guess what? That 10 year period ends in May.
More importantly, Webber decided to disassociate himself with his fellow Fab Five members. If you want details on his separation with his former teammates, check out Rose’s appearance on the BS Report with Bill Simmons from Sunday.
So 20 years after the Fab Five broke up, Webber is still isolating himself from the group. Is it surprising that the man who’s career ended with an embarrassing gaffe and who’s former university decided to ignore him for a decade wouldn’t exactly be eager to root for that team? I am not in Webber’s head, but it seems Webber is still bitter.
Rose has discussed how he too was bitter for a period towards Michigan, but has moved past that. So have the rest of the Fab Five. The other four members all were on the Fab Five documentary and have been around this team to different extents. Rose has been like an uncle to many of the players on this team, becoming a huge mascot for Michigan basketball.
However, Webber was the only one who the university individually threw to the side following the Martin Scandal. He was singled out and embarrassed over the scandal by the NCAA and Michigan. Michigan has rid themselves of Webber and Webber has tried to do the same with his past. If he doesn’t go to the game and have a reunion with Rose, Jackson, Howard and King, it shouldn’t be surprising.
It would be great and really special if Webber was seen on TV celebrating Trey Burke and company, as they played for a title in the same maize and blue that Webber played in. But after 20 years of separation between Chris Webber, the Fab Five and the University of Michigan, don’t count on it.