He was indeed a great ballhandler for a big man, but that's not to say that you'd ideally want him bringing it up on the biggest possession of the season.
The Man Who Wasn't There
I don't actually have many memories of the Fab Five on the court. I remember being utterly heartsick when Webber called that timeout. That moment is undoubtedly the genesis of my obsession with rules that suck and should be changed*. I remember hating that technical when the ref could have just ignored it and left Webber to figure it out himself.
I also remember a black t-shirt I had commemorating the '92 Final Four, but incompletely. I know Cincinnati was on the shirt. I had to look up the other two teams, look up that Michigan beat the Bearcats in the semi before losing to Duke, look up the fact that Michigan was just a six seed. I remember the shirt being embroidered, because that's what happened in 1992 when you wanted something fancy. It was scratchy. I loved it.
I've got the heartsick and the shirt; everything else has melted away. When Wolverine Historian posted one of their games against Illinois I watched it and was stunned by… well, everything. A stone-cold packed Crisler full of people losing their minds. The helter-skelter nature of the game on both ends. Michigan—Michigan!—having a bunch of defiant, ruckus-raising black guys Jim Nantz remains terrified of to this day.
That is not the equilibrium state of Michigan basketball. That does not come from Earth. It comes from a planet with a green sun and marshmallow donkeys.
Later I remember loathing Chris Webber. Years and years had passed and Webber was on a very good Sacramento Kings team playing the Lakers in the conference finals. Sacramento had just gotten legendarily boned in game six. I remember watching game seven smugly, thinking Webber was born to fail in the moment of truth as he clanged threes and the Kings evaporated.
Anyone with a soul roots against the Lakers for the same reason they root against the Yankees. Sacramento had just suffered through a game that Tim Donaughy could point to years later as an example of a fix only to have obsessives like Bill Simmons say "tell me something I don't know." My loathing for Webber overcame all.
Some years later Webber was a trade-deadline acquisition for the Pistons during the period when the Billups/Prince/Hamilton/McDyess core still had my full attention. I was unhappy with it but dealt. I watched Chris Webber play basketball again. By that point he had suffered a variety of injuries that left him barely able to jump. He was useless defensively, an old man devoid of the thunderous athleticism that I assumed must have been part and parcel of why he was so good in college, the #1 pick in the draft, etc. By all rights he should have been out of the league already. Like Shawn Kemp, basically.
The reason he wasn't was his passing. Someone who paid more attention to the NBA than I did or wasn't 14 the last time he saw Webber play much already knew this. I didn't. I knew Chris Webber, though. I knew he was a liar and a choker and not very smart and just a general all-around jerk who wouldn't even apologize. I knew the Fab Five was just a bunch of guys who played schoolyard basketball because they were so outrageously better than everyone they could get away with it.
I knew Chris Webber until I watched him play. He dropped passes in spaces that didn't exist until he saw them. He hit cutters that didn't know they were open until the ball was in their hands. He was brilliant despite having the athleticism of Artie Lang. He was incredible fun. Despite myself I really liked watching Chris Webber play basketball, and now I don't think I know one thing about him.
To say Michigan has done a 180 in re: the cultural alignment of their basketball team understates things despite that being axiomatically impossible. The old ringleader just called black guys at Duke "Uncle Toms"; the new one is from Chesterton, Indiana, and once knew 62 digits of pi. After Michigan completed its season sweep of MSU the most desperate, laughable assertion I came across from some guy on an MSU message board was that Michigan had "thugs" on its team, an accusation that would have been uncomfortable during the Fab Five era and literally true when Ellerbe was running things into the ground.
Webber's been banned and feels repudiated and people feel free to demand an apology from him before he even thinks about setting foot in Crisler again, so I get why he doesn't feel like he owes anyone anything. If he wouldn't talk to Jalen Rose for his documentary, it's hard to believe he'll actually "tell his side soon" as he hoped on twitter.
This is immensely disappointing to me. I don't hate him any more and don't care about apologies, don't care about the crater he is often blamed for no matter how little input he had on hiring Ellerbe**. I'd just like to know every last detail of what happened.
Because I don't understand Jalen Rose, don't understand Webber, don't understand the lady in the gas station on the South Side of Chicago I asked directions of who responded "I don't know about any damn directions." I do understand the visceral thrill of those bald heads and black socks, but only vicariously, like a kid from Troy buying an NWA cassette. I can't say why I thought Jim Nantz's obviously racist distaste for the Fab Five was obviously racist, but I had a Nantz-like reaction to that lady in Chicago. I understand why my fiancée continually mishears Duke's mascot as the "white devils" and simultaneously have less than zero sympathy for Robert Traylor and would want to punch him in the face if I ever met him and he was tied to a rock and he had no idea who I was and I could definitely run away before he got loose.
Webber's redemption never happened with him or Taylor or Bullock, and while Bullock was from some suburb in Maryland and cannot be redeemed—seriously, he can die in a fire for all I care—maybe if Chris Webber said something brutally honest it would help me be less confused and sad about Michigan basketball in the 90s, and maybe a bunch of other things of greater significance.
It bothers me that Michigan's response to the NCAA scandal was to go from culturally black enough to have Ice Cube in your documentary to Duke Lite, but goddammit I also wanted some directions. I want Chris Webber to gently untie this Gordian knot in an hour-long interview on national television. When he's done the pieces will assemble themselves into a butterfly with big ears and a huge assist rate. This is the least he can do for 13-year-old me and my embroidered Final Four t-shirt. Thanks in advance.
- Timeouts in basketball. There should be one, period, like in hockey.
- The NHL rule where flipping the puck into the stands from your own zone is a penalty. It should be handled like icing, which is what the NCAA does.
- Hockey offsides is brutal. Widen the line to reduce whistles.
**[Tom Goss, not Ed Martin, is the man who killed Michigan basketball.]
I said that at the time, too. The '88 Pistons' loss from Bird stealing the ball on the inbounds play was still painfully fresh in my mind, and while the circumstances were somewhat different, there were still guys running downcourt when the ball wasn't safely following them.
No matter who's got the ball, even if it's an awesome point guard, someone's got to hang back and help against the press. They didn't, and that was that.
While I agree in principle that someone should have come back to help him out. Webber was a very good ball handler. I don't mean that in the sense he was a very good ball handler for a big man but he was a very good ball handler in general. His teammates had seen him numerous times over the course of two years take the ball up the court and often times through traffic with very few mistakes.
Yeah there are a lot of contradictions that's for sure. Chris Weber very selfish and self centered off the basketball court, totally unselfish and a great team player on the basketball court. Chris Weber in his prime could easily have been an integral part of many championship teams, that he wasn't was a mere matter of circumstance, the guy is a winner on the basketball court. 3 high school state championships, 2 college runner-up in 2 opportunities, and a near miss on the professional level.
If Weber ever had teammates like Kareem and Magic, or Bird and Parrish, or Isaiah and Joe Dumars, his fortune would have been different. That being said, his best Sacramento teams were damn good.
That would have been some front-court, no?
Yeah, I always wondered whether the high-low post game between those two would have been more successful than the (probably more intuitively appealing) combo of Hardaway (NTH) and Shaq.
Bill Simmons actually tackles this in his Book of Basketball coming to the conclusion the Magic and Webber would've been better off. Webber and Shaq could've worked a crazy efficient high low game. In fact, a team of Webber, Shaq, Scott Skiles (aka crazy assist master), Nick Anderson (shooter), and Shooter SF X would've been very, very good and may have challenged for a decade straight.
Say....Dennis Scott?....who was on the roster at the time....
There is no denying his talent. C-webb was always my favorite and the reason I wore #4 in every sport I played ever.* I sincerely hope he gets the chance to say something about this issue that lets everyone take something away and move on.
*Freshman football the exception. A senior had 4, so I went with 22. After the senior left, 4 was mine (again).
but some other day, i would love a refresher on the Tom Goss basketball killing side of things. i remember seeing him at the orange bowl and thinking he was don king, but other than that don't remember much of the man.
Then wash your eyes out with hydrogen peroxide.
Is that as a 19 year old Chris Webber did that press conference after "The Timeout". The film did an outstanding job of showing the emotion after their first championship loss. Then, after a mistake (Blame webber, blame the bench, blame whoever) Chris had to go in front of the entire COUNTRY and answer questions at NINETEEN.
He's got a ton of respect in my eyes for that.
regardless of anything else, that took some mad balls to go up there and do that presser
also that he said he didnt remember, rather than shifting blame to talley/the bench or whoever else
Even the short clips from the press conference were excruciating."How did it feel?" "What was going through your mind?" Talk about getting kicked when your down.
It a small way that nonsense almost justifies Webber's reluctance to talk now.
That was incredibly painful to watch. "Chris, is this worse than the worst day of your life?" That's beyond journalism; that's just being insensitive.
No player (even a Buckeye or Spartan) should be prodded to pieces by the media like that.
That has to be in the Top 10 Dumbest Questions from a Press Conference. I think I would've spat in that guy's face.
The minutes after the timeout call on the documentary ,especially the media conference, were just so brutal to watch. Webber is just a broken and defeated kid at that point and is sitting there on a grand stage having to answer these ridiculous questions. Even then he recognizes "I probably cost my team the game." Even despite all the mistakes he's made after, my heart still breaks for him and that team when I watch/relive that moment.
I must first admit that Chris Webber remained my favorite player until he retired from the NBA. My love for his game started at Michigan with the Fab Five and continued on with the Warriors, Bullets, Kings etc... While he is undoubtedly the best basketball player to ever come out of Michigan, he is also is seen as the 1 person who brought the program down because of his transactions with Ed Martin (which I'm not sure is fair).
I do agree with most people that he should mend his relationship with the University at some point down the road. But I do not think he actually owes anything to Michigan. The minute they tried to sue him for restitution is when I knew things would never be the same. They made so much money off the Fab Five and Chris and now they were ready to throw him completely under the bus for making an idiotic mistake as a 19 year old kid. They took the banners, they banned him from the university and placed most of the blame on him for everything that has happened since 1997. That should have been enough, instead they went for the throat of 1 person.
Either way, I hope Chris can reconcile with the University and the Fab Five can help with recruiting (under the NCAA bylaws of course).
didnt do huge things for Michigan's recruiting in all kids of sports I'll be very surprised
Made us look bad-ass. Even Crisler looked like a place you'd want to play in.
i did my undergrad during the years of roy tarpley and richard rellford and butch wade, and let me tell you - some of the kids of those teams were driving some fairly spectacular cars. so i have a hard time burning webber to the ground because he "cratered the entire program," or some such. the thing that we vilify bullock and traylor and taylor and webber for were almost certainly not new to ann arbor.
that said - my years in grad school in ann arbor exactly coincided with webber's two seasons, and i happened to live in the same apartment complex as webber during his soph year. two notes on that - first, anyone that says that there was no evidence that he was on the take wasn't looking very hard...the whole poor college student / "i can't get a pizza" thing with mitch albom was as laughable then as it is now. second, that team was an absolute joy to watch, but if you were a few years older and figuring out adulthood, there were some definite mixed feelings. i think it's the moment when the disconnect between students and athletes really became obvious to me...those guys were so far removed from the student body. you have to wonder how many of them would have even shown up in college if they'd been of the kobe / kg era. not sure where i'm going with that, just that yes, they were my team, and i rooted really hard for them, but it wasn't as easy to identify with them as co-students as the teams that came before them. or since, for that matter. they seemed more like professionals than any other team we've had, so for that reason i don't feel any desperate need to re-raise the banners or even have them back around. they came here as a means to get somewhere else. they're not the first, nor are they the last, but it seemed really obvious at the time. even more so now, obviously.
</unfocused rant-like substance>
I was in the College of Engineering at that time, too.
Rellford/Wade/Tarpley/Joubert... Named the "Best Dressed" Team in the Big Ten, a result of the fine furs they wore...
Your points about the Fab Five not necessarily being part of the collegiate student body resonate strongly. They were just a world apart...
And not throwing money at Frieder to get him to stay was Bo always felt like something was a bit...unseemly....the way things were handled in the basketball program. Then we won it all, and it became nearly impossible to make the break he wanted. We would probably have hired whoever Bobby Knight recommended to Bo. Not sure how that would have worked out.
how he was uncomfortable with Frieder and all of the outside people that were always "hanging around" the basketball program (Ed Martin was one perhaps?). Had Bo stayed, there may have never been a scandal.
What I took away from the show (entertaining as it was), was the attitude of the kids that "Someone else is making money off of me" and they didn't like it. They (understandably) missed the whole point.
I realize (and remember) that the mind of an 18 year old isn't very clear. Once they went pro, Nike / the NBA / EA / et. al. would still be making money off of them. Did they think that was fair? Or just more fair? I guess it just shows the value they placed on free room/board, not to mention a degree from U of M - not much. Selling merchandice, filling the stadium, being on national TV - they didn't realize that money was going to them? Sure, they weren't getting a paycheck, and I don't begrudge them taking benefits from the boosters.
I don't know why the NFL/NBA can't use the same model as the NHL/MLB: sign the kids whenever you want, but they can still develop in college. Seeing how skinny they all were in their freshman year showed they weren't ready for the NBA. They may have thought so, but they would have ridden the bench for the first two years anyway.
What's more, I think they totally glossed over the Traylor/Taylor/Bullock era, and Fisher's involvement. If it had been just Webber (and Rose), we wouldn't have gotten the punishment from the NCAA. But continuing it, and having the coach turn a blind eye to it, showed the lack of institutional control. That's what got Fisher fired, and that's what got us put on probation. It really was a punishment to the program, and I think they were right in taking down the banners and vacating the wins.
What fascinates me about the Fab Five is how much hype they get for changing college basketball's image. A lot of that can be attributed to the walking quote machine that is Jalen Rose. He is a world class hype man and his gift of gab has helped secure their 'legacy' when the media recreates the story of the 90's.
But these claims that the Fab Five brought swagger and rap music to boring, bland world of college basketball overlook the UNLV teams that preceded them. If you want to talk about swagger and scaring middle America, you start with those Rebel teams. They intimidated teams. Larry Johnson had the gold tooth. They associated with Vegas mobsters. They had an outlaw coach. College basketball had never seen anything like it. And they WON a championship.
The inexplicable thing about Webber's relationship with Ed Martin is Mitch Albom's claim that he took it after declaring. He was a lock for the #1 pick and all the millions that entailed. He was also free to sign with an agent and negotiate endorsements. His vindicativeness towards Ed Martin and his silence tell me there is more to the story.
But without the freshman cache, they didn't have the cultural zeitgeist that the Fabbers had. And weren't as embraceable, because, at the time, were already looked at as a renegade program. (Who knew?)
No one loved the UNLV look that much...
But the Fab Five had style.
UNLV won the title, the Fab Five didn't.
It is not hard to figure which is superior.
They didn't win as freshmen or sophomores. They were almost all upperclassmen in '90.
And why, not which was superior. Frankly, playing bitch Duke one year instead of Champ Duke was the only difference. Both lost to the great, experienced Duke team.
Webber took a loan out when he decided to declare for the draft. He had already decided to end amateur athletics and go pro, and figured he'd starting taking the $$. He should have waited a few more months. The guys after that though .... we've paid the price.
I feel that Webber was probably the least guilty of all the players involved in the Ed Martin scandal, but he was the highest profile. I also think he was the guy who really got Martin in the door as a fixture in the Michigan program. Fisher, as decent a guy as he seems to be, bears a huge chunk of the blame because he should've taken more interest in what Ed Martin was doing around his players.
Fisher should take the blame. There is absolutely no way he didn't know what was going on. However, what bothers me about Webber is you look at the life Howard and Rose had and the decisions they made. Webber didn't grow up an awful, one parent environment. He had a what appears on the surface to be a pretty normal family life and they weren't poor. So anyone can say 'you would take the money too," but the other guys didn't and they are the ones who probably should have!
I was in school during the fab five era and will never forget it. It was unreal and watching the doc reminded me how awesome it was. But Steve Fisher and Chris Webber will always remain in my dog house for what they did to Michigan Basketball.
The Man Who Sold the World, an appropriate cloaked reference if true and from the same time period. I was a Jr and Sr during the Fab5 era and was a Fr when UM won the NC with Hardaway Sr et al. Great years. The Webber timeout caused me to have a headache for about a year. I chose to only remember those golden years 88-92 and consciously blocked out the later ncaa violations and investigations and drama. C Webb is waiting for a book deal no doubt, maybe another chance to make some $$. If he was smart he would have had something released when the documentary aired but I am sure he wants to avoid pressers and questions dealing with the topic. Whether he was there or not or finally talks on his own terms, I seriously doubt he will apologize or even be completely candid about what he did. At this point, I don't care if he talks, it wouldn't take away that EFFFF'n timeout he called (yes, it's moot because the wins were vacated but it still gives me a headache to watch).
The championship team was 89, but the Fab Five Final Four runs were in 92 and 93. You couldn't have been for both unless you were in a 5th year. And Hardaway Senior played for UTEP, not us, and not on our Champ team.
Say what you will about Chris Webber, he is not stupid. At all. He's charismatic as hell and an absolute joy on TV.
The timeout change is a good one. They already get 8 TV timeouts per game. Another 12 timeouts on top of that is just pure nuisance.
I've always been annoyed when teams resort to fouling at the end of a game. If they couldn't win it on the court, do they really deserve a chance to win by hack-a-shaq. In the last 2 or 3 minutes of a game, give the fouled team the choice to shoot free throws or take the ball with a fresh shot clock.
Just make your goddamn free throws!!!
And don't get me started on soccer offsides, where it's the striker's job to know where the defender is.
That's why you play 40 minutes. Teams should finish out the game by executing against press defense and making free throws to keep teams out of it. That's a part of organized basketball; your system would effectively end the game with 3 minutes left if the deficit is any more than 8.
I'm old enough to remember when they added the current rule for getting two foul shots when you hit 10 team fouls (used to continue to be 1 and 1 ad infinitum). Same goes for the shot clock which was basically added for the same reason but on the different end of the spectrum - to make games more competitive at the end.
You think it's bad now with all the fouling, imagine when a team would go into a "4 corners offense" when they got up by about 5 or 6 with 10 minutes left (ahem, Dean Smith).
Some of the best buzzer beater finishes in history were set up by fouling to extend the game and come back from behind. (We almost did it on Saturday.)
I always thought Chris Webber was a pretty bright guy. Al McGuire once opined that he didn't want players who thought too much instead of just playing, and I thought of that a couple of times watching Webber play.
I suspect that Webber saw a lot of people who weren't as good at basketball, and who weren't as smart as he was, get away with a bunch of stuff, and now that he's the one that got caught, he thinks it sucks that it's not "fair," especially since the kids paid a higher price than the "grownups." In a way he's right, but that's the way you think when you're nineteen, not when you're thirty-nine. Telling the whole truth is the only thing that would change things for the better. Maybe he'll figure it out.
Did he graduate?
IIRC, Nantz LOVED the Fab Five. Don't know what brian is talking about regarding racism, being scared, etc.??
Nantz has been a harsh critic of the Fab Five, most recently during the game Saturday, cutting off his co-broadcasters to discuss how the FF "ruined UM basketball," etc. He's always displayed a discomfort talking about them, and taken a fairly pious view in doing so.
He's an asshat. One thing I've always hated about the tournament is that CBS injects him into the mix when things really start to matter, i.e. the conference tournaments and ncaa tournement. He has nothing to do with college basketball all year, and then we get to listen to him drone on and on about the most important gamesr. He's not really good at it, either. While I dislike his style, generally, and don't enjoy him calling golf, at least he's more suited for it.