Tonight's NCAA Championship Game between Michigan and Louisville is the first appearance for the Wolverines in the final since 1993 and the days of the Fab Five. The '93 title game will always be remembered for Chris Webber's infamous timeout and in the years since, the player and the school have had a bitter disassociation from each other.
Although multiple players received benefits and the issues surrounding Michigan extended beyond the days of the Fab Five, Webber became the focus of the scandal. He has been erased from Michigan's basketball history, the Fab Five's banners have been taken down, and Webber even pleaded guilty to criminal contempt for lying to a grand jury about his relationship with disgraced booster Ed Martin in 2003. Moreover, the NCAA instituted a mandatory 10 year period where Webber could not associate with Michigan that ironically enough ends next month. Webber also refused to participate in former teammate Jalen Rose's ESPN documentary on the Fab Five and was the only member not to appear.
And yet in spite of all that ugliness, Jalen Rose and the Fab Five are hoping for a storybook reunion tonight in Atlanta at tonight's championship game. The four other members plan on being in attendance, but Webber has kept his distance from the program, tonight's game, and the Fab Five. Rose appeared in a Sunday podcast with Bill Simmons (wearing a ridiculous Michigan superfan outfit) to make the case for Webber burying the hatchet, letting bygones be bygones, forgiving and forgetting, and whatever sunny cliche you'd like to include to reunite with his Fab Five mates...
"The elephant in the room has been Chris Webber. While he loves us like brothers and vice versa, there has been a communication separation that has basically taken place since we all were teammates. I think the timeout had a lot to do with it, here's what I mean. I think he wants to disassociate himself with that moment and with that school, in theory with us, to kinda rebuild his life mentally to say 'my career really started my rookie year in the NBA.' But that's not really how it works. It's sad, it's unfortunate."
Webber's relationship with Rose appears to have been strained over the years as well. Rose admitted the pair didn't talk much in another podcast with Simmons from October where he again stated his belief that the timeout has driven Webber away from Michigan. To add to the intrigue regarding Webber attending tonight's game is the fact that he lives and works in Atlanta for Turner Sports. However, he to this point has not been used on the network's NCAA Tournament coverage, perhaps because of his checkered past with college basketball.
Rose blames the timeout, but I'm not sure that one moment is the crux of Webber's divorce with Michigan basketball. The timeout is the moment we all saw, the one that we all remember vividly like it was 20 minutes ago instead of 20 years ago. Nevertheless, boiling Webber's complicated relationship with Michigan and the Fab Five down to that one play ignores the years of NCAA investigations, grand jury investigations, and the school basically saying Webber never existed. To expect Chris Webber to forget all of that, forget the NCAA and Michigan telling him to stay away with loud sirens and flashing lights, and happily show up in maize and blue and sing "Hail to the Victors" tonight in Atlanta is wishful thinking.
For his part, Webber has remained silent during Michigan's current tourney run, save for one tweet in support of the current players. And maybe that's how it should be. Webber had a successful NBA career, he's a rising star as an analyst for Turner, he doesn't need the attachment to the Fab Five and Michigan basketball anymore. In the end, all this attention on Michigan basketball's past and the 1993 team is taking away from the story of the 2013 team.
Sure, a Fab Five reunion would be a great story to tell for CBS tonight and a great image for One Shining Moment, maybe even for Michigan basketball, but Pink Floyd is never getting back together and neither is the Fab Five. Sometimes the past stays in the past, regardless of how great a story it would make in the present.
I don't know about anyone else but I found this podcast so annoying, so childish. It didn't come off as Mr. Rose reaching out to Chris Webber, it came off as Rose and Simmons trashing him for nearly 30 minutes. I cannot remember a sports personality so obviously trying to slant the view of their own history, and ESPN is facilitating it. Between the documentary (which was good, but not up with the best of ESPN's latest) and his constant appearances on the B.S. Report and TV, you would think Jalen Rose was a more historically important player than he was . And really, I'm sorry, can we just let the "Fab 5" go. They were a big deal, granted, but if you grew up on the West Coast like I did, the most famous and successful team from that era was UNLV.
And good god, Bill Simmons has to be one of the most annoying personalities on ESPN now. Why has no one caught on that he should be doing nothing but talking basketball? His opinions regarding other media (especially late-night TV) are biased (geez, can he please stop shoving Seth Meyers and Jimmy Kimmel down our throats?) and, frankly, not all that enlightening. He stopped being the every-man a long time ago, he could at least stop trying to pose as one.
@awfulannouncing great read.
@awfulannouncing I'm with team Jalen.
@awfulannouncing he's probably just pissed that he took the fall when Rose is likely as "guilty" of taking improper benefits as he was
@awfulannouncing saw ESPN doc over weekend. perhaps Webber is not happy about parts where even Rose seems to throw him under the bus
@awfulannouncing Maybe he's as tired of hearing about the Fab 5 as the rest of us.
@awfulannouncing um he's basically persona non grata at Michigan. Jalen rose not 1in position 2invite. Maybe if Univ Pres called Webber???
@awfulannouncing good stuff.
@awfulannouncing Hey don't forget that small matter of a charge of perjury in federal court.