Jalen's Fab Five comment on First Take today...

Submitted by Tater on January 27th, 2010 at 12:08 PM

Jalen Rose called in to First Take from somewhere in Michigan today. He was talking about his wardrobe at the game, and said, to quote loosely and from memory:

"I'm looking forward to the day when the entire Fab Five will be at a game. Then I will wear maize and blue."

I disagree with this because I feel that Chris Webber was solely responsible for making it "cool" to take Ed Martin's money. Ergo, I see Webber as responsible for all of Michigan's ten-year decline.

I find it more distasteful because Webber's parents both had decent jobs and he always had enough of whatever he needed when he was growing up. When juxtaposed with Juwan Howard, who was raised in poverty by his grandmother who died without ever seeing him play a game, and didn't take Martin's money, choosing to spend his time at the Children's Hospital instead of the mall, Webber looks even worse.

I would love to see what I call the "Clean Four" back together at a game, but I don't want to ever see Chris Webber "back in the fold" at UM.

Am I being too harsh? Would Webber's presence be good for UM instead of the train wreck I think it would be? I don't have any mixed emotions about Webber whatsoever, but was wondering what others think.


Thanks to all who participated so far; I upvoted everyone who gave a genuine opinion without insulting those who disagree with them. That is about 95 percent of the comments. The consensus here may have influenced me to soften my stand on Webber. I think I may be ready to "welcome him back" whenever he offers a genuine apology and a mea culpa.

I think I feel a bit smarter today for having read the feedback, both pro and con. Thanks again.

Edit part duh:

I meant, of course, that I upvoted 95 percent of the comments. Sorry about the confusion.



January 27th, 2010 at 12:13 PM ^

Honestly, my emotions are torn when I think about C-Webb. My memories as a kid, of being thrilled by him, fight the fact that I'm a proud Detroit native and UM grad that finds it a bit despicable that C-Webb has never said, simply, "look, I was wrong - I was an impressionable kid that did something stupid, but I'm sorry."

In other words, I don't think it's too much for UM fans and grads to expect C-Webb to offer SOME contrition for contributing to sinking the program and embarrassing the school, even if we all acknowledged that teenagers are impressionable.


January 27th, 2010 at 12:14 PM ^

As much as you can be terribly disappointed by someone you've never met, that's how I feel about Webber. I think he's a guy who had a hell of a lot of potential as a person, not just a player. He seems to have turned away from that in many ways...I hate to say it, because I'll always have a soft spot for the guy, but I also wouldn't want to see him at a Michigan game. He did the program too much damage.

Fresh Meat

January 27th, 2010 at 12:19 PM ^

I generally remember him favorably. My earliest memories of watching sports and being excited to see a game are watching the Fab 5. I just have too many good childhood memories revolving around Chris and the rest of them to hold resentment towards him.


January 27th, 2010 at 12:20 PM ^

Webber. Don't love the guy. Don't hate him. 18-19 year old kids make dumb choices all the time. Some kids are stronger (ala Howard), but I don't hold Webber responsible for Traylor, Bullock and co. They made their own dumb choices. I suppose I would like Webber better if he'd come clean about the whole thing and apologized (which, to my knowledge, he's never done).

I see Steve Fisher at least as equally complicit in those days, and ergo-ing your ergo, as much responsible for the the wasteland the program became. (Then I blame Tom Goss for letting Brian Ellerbe take over and perpetuate the devastation). Ugh.


January 27th, 2010 at 2:10 PM ^

The thing that makes me the most PO'd about Webber is an utter absence of mea culpas, not only in this situation, but in every situation in his life. Everything that happens around him is always someone else's fault and he never does anything wrong.

When the Martin case was active, he was on WDFN and started calling a caller names for asking if he was at fault. I lost all respect for Webber then. Over the years, I have seen him on TV or read about him, and have never seen him show an ounce of contrition about anything.

I live my life in the "no regrets" mode, so I can understand it to a point, but I also believe that you have to take responsibility for your own actions. Sadly, I know of absolutely no incidence where Webber has ever done this.

If Webber ever "came clean" and apologized, I would probably forgive him. As for him ever being around the program again, I think it would send the wrong message to recruits, their parents, and the NCAA.

The only scenario in which I can envision Webber's presence being healthy for the program is if he voluntarily becomes a "poster child" for "don't make the same mistake I did." If a humbled Webber told all and toured NCAA schools as part of a prevention program, I would be "all in."

Sadly, I don't see this ever happening, because humility doesn't appear to be in Webber's dictionary. I hope he proves me wrong someday.


January 27th, 2010 at 2:36 PM ^

You think Webb being around the program would be bad for recruits???? Not even close. Having one of the best players in the State's history around does nothing but good. You think it wouldn't help bring Amir Williams (another County Day big man) into the fold? You think young ballers don't love Chris? Of course they do. We need size and Chris can help bring some of those kids into the maize and blue.

Webb didn't throw games. He didn't brawl. He did, beginning as a 13/14 year old, take money from someone unrelated to the school. He also lied about that to protect the program. Is that wrong? Yes. Does that make him a terrible person? No.

Steve in PA

January 27th, 2010 at 12:33 PM ^

Doing the right thing isn't always easy and you surely can justify not doing it sometimes, but is ALWAYS the right thing. Loved watching Webber play, but I think personally he's a POS.


January 27th, 2010 at 12:40 PM ^

Probably isn't fair. For one, we have no idea if Martin offered Juwan anything. Martin was a Detroit guy who knew CWebb before he committed to Michigan. It wasn't the same connection or relationship as with Juwan. Jalen would be a better comparison, but we don't really know if he took money or not.

I'm disappointed Webber took the money. I'm disappointed he broke the rules and hasn't conveyed public remorse. But, I also understand how he felt exploited and felt he wasn't harming anyone by borrowing money when he was due to make millions shortly. But more importantly than all that, Webber gave me my best and most intense sports memories. I understand the hostility, but if you were alive and a young boy during that era, the Fab 5 was too awesome to ever begrudge.

While I'm at it... Lets not scape-goat Webber for the decade of decline. There are many people to blame there. What Bullock and Traylor did (take money while under investigation, and without "earning" it, if such a claim can be made) was far worse. What Ellerbe did (and didn't do) had far more of an impact in the cratering of the program.

As for Amaker...while he wasn't a good basketball coach, he did yeoman's work in getting the program back on solid footing, and for that I'll always appreciate him.

Bando Calrissian

January 27th, 2010 at 12:44 PM ^

Totally agree. The day they bring back Chris Webber in any official capacity is the day I stop giving the Athletic Department money for the basketball program. No tickets, no nothing.

Chris Webber, for what his actions did to the integrity of our University, should be permanent persona non grata. And I think Athletics and the University are likely to make that happen, as I know I'm not the only one who feels that way.


January 27th, 2010 at 12:57 PM ^

He took a lot of it and was the most influential and charismatic member of the Fab Five.

Ironically enough, a few years before the Fab Five, I got a ninth-row center court seat for UM/Wiscy. Rice scored something like his uni number, 41 points. I sat next to an older guy who knew more about DSW players and basketball in general than anyone I had ever met. This guy knew where every member of the Antoine Joubert-led state runners-up team was and what he was doing.

I asked if he was a coach, and he said, "I helps coach Watson once in awhile." He was evasive about himself, but effusive about basketball. I didn't remember his name, but I certainly remembered his face. It was, of course, Ed Martin.

In retrospect, I think Martin was a master "networker." He seemed to know everyone who he felt it would benefit him to know, and I think he got more out of knowing basketball players than any money could buy. I can't imagine him giving other players as much money as he did and not offering everyone else, too. Some people took the money and some didn't.

I feel truly sorry for the honest players who played for UM at the time, because their legacy was forever stained by those who took the money.

And I can't help but think that it all could have been stopped if Webber had walked up to Fisher and said, "Coach, Ed Martin just offered me 100K today. What should I do?"

Kilgore Trout

January 27th, 2010 at 1:11 PM ^

On the major topic, I am too much of a Fab Five fan and was too influenced by them when I was a young teenager to really turn against any of them. Just can't do it.

I disagree with your statement that Webber was the most influential / charismatic member though. I think it was clear that Rose was the leader and catalyst to it all. That was his team from the minute he stepped on the floor.

Bando Calrissian

January 27th, 2010 at 2:09 PM ^

If we really want to get technical, the first Michigan player Martin was publicly attached to was Terry Mills in 1985, trying to get Terry to transfer to Southwestern for his senior year of high school.

The difference between Terry Mills and Chris Webber, however, is that Terry called his high school coach when Martin showed up at his house with liquor, cakes, and money, who then made Martin come to Romulus High School the next morning to pick up the stuff. This was all reported in the press.

Webber didn't have the character to do anything but take the cash.


January 27th, 2010 at 2:17 PM ^

do you really believe that Webber was the first dirty player Michigan had?

That doesn't happen in a vacuum. Look at Rumeal's comments from last year:

Fisher’s firing in 1997, in part, because Martin (a Detroit booster but not an alum) provided money to several Wolverines: “Knowing Steve Fisher, I don’t think he knew anything about any of that. He wouldn’t put himself in that position. Coach Frieder, now he might have. Frieder cared a little bit more than Fisher.

“The NCAA may need to give some money for the players.”

“You got nine pros and none of them left school early? If you’re taking care of players the right way, you understand the process to make it work. Otherwise, a player’s got to go out and look for help, it’s going to happen” like with the Martin scandal.

My point is that Webber was certainly dirty but I also don't believe he was the first. To blame him for the downfall of UM basketball misses the mark. The culture of the program at the time was the problem, not Webber.


January 27th, 2010 at 2:18 PM ^

I don't know if he was in the golden handshake business back when Joubert was on the team, or when a couple more DSW players played at UM. At any rate, though, Webber was the first player at UM to be documented as having taking Martin's money.

One of the things that always pissed me off about the Martin Scandal was that he wasn't a UM booster, but a Detroit basketball booster. Watson was the first he latched onto, but I would be willing to bet that he made "loans" to plenty of other Detroit players who went on to play on other teams.

The characterization of Martin as a "UM Booster" was probably the most damaging part of the NCAA's case against Michigan.

For all we know, a few MSU players from the Detroit area might have taken his money, too.


January 27th, 2010 at 1:05 PM ^

I do agree with the poster who says that Fisher is partially at fault. From Bill Frieder's ignoring Tarpley's use of drugs to Fisher's not wondering where all of the money was coming from, the UM coaches had been negligent in monitoring their players for a long time.

During Fisher's last years, I always had the feeling that the "inmates were running the asylum." It seemed like the players weren't getting enough direction from the coaching staff. When compared to Bo, Mo, and Carr, the basketball coaches came up pathetically short when it came to developing their players as human beings.

So, while I do blame Webber for starting the pattern and not informing the coaching staff of Martin's offer, I do agree that Fisher could have been a lot more aware of what was going on. And I have the utmost respect for the "clean four" for developing themselves into men without much help or role modelling from the coaching staff.


January 27th, 2010 at 1:07 PM ^

Although C Webber took the money and partly caused a decline like no other, things didn't come crashing down until that accident with the explorer that had Mo Taylor, and Cleaves in it. I prefer to blame things on those that were here when it happened. (Administrators, coaches, parents, non-driving athletes)

turbo cool

January 27th, 2010 at 1:23 PM ^

I WANT to see Chris Webber and the rest of the Fab 5 in Chrisler again. Yeah, what he did was bad but forgive and forget. I personally would love to see a game where the entire Fab 5 is back sitting together or even have a half-time speech. Hell, if they recognized what they did and sincerely apologized, and let the Michigan faithful know that they made serious mistakes but are willing to make amends and take positive action for the University in any capacity I bet the majority of fans would give them a standing ovation.

Maybe i'm just optimistic but I would LOVE to see that happen. I honestly hate how we technically cannot associate them with Michigan. It's a damn shame.

turbo cool

January 27th, 2010 at 2:20 PM ^

+1 to you. I'm an idiot. I grew up just a few min from Crisler, worked with the bball AD when I was a student, and I still spelled it wrong. Spending hours in excel and drinking too much coffee makes my eyes bleed and at that point any misspelling is possible.


January 27th, 2010 at 1:26 PM ^

It's been said a couple times already, but I think there are a lot of guys who are now in their mid-late 20s that just can't bring themselves to hate CWebb. I'm definitely one of those people and I know plenty of others that feel the same way. The Fab-Five were gods when I was 8-11 years old. They made me love basketball...buy black shoes...wear baggy maize shorts...and more importantly LOVE UofM athletics.

It may be sacrilegious, but along with Desmond, the Fab-Five are what put UofM sports on the map for me, and I can't hate any person who contributed to that.

Now that I'm an adult I obviously know what CWebb did was wrong, and I've experienced the shit-storm that it brought to our bball program. But ask yourselves two things 1) would there be a UofM basketball to fall from grace w/o CWebb and 2) I find it hard to believe anyone who says w/ 100% certainty that they wouldn't have done the exact same thing CWebb did given the same circumstances.

Watching the video Prophet just posted gave me goosebumps and any ill-will I had for CWebb just melts away. I loved him back then, I rooted for the Kings when he was in Sacramento just because he was out there, and I love watching him on NBATV.

Musket Rebellion

January 27th, 2010 at 1:47 PM ^

Is what Webber did wrong? Yes.

Should we prosecute him for the rest of his life? No.

Jalen has every right to be upset. The university that he for three years embodied has publicly denounced him and his teammates. Chris Webber took money almost 20 years ago. Let it go. Bring the Fab Five back, put the banners back up, and let's all move on.


January 27th, 2010 at 2:23 PM ^

...only a lively discussion of a player who was documented as having taken a bunch of Ed Martin's money.

In the OP, I asked for opinions, and most of them on both sides seem pretty heartfelt and fair to me.

As for a question about whether or not there would have "been a UM basketball" to go into decline without the Fab Five, I'm sure the 1989 National Champions would have a definitive answer.


January 27th, 2010 at 2:36 PM ^

Just being a smart ass w/ the persecution comment...definitely a good discussion on both sides.

As for the 1989 NC...I was waiting for someone to make that comment. UofM Basketball definitely was on the map before the Fab-Five...that isn't really up for debate with the Cazzie years, Rudy T, and the '89 NC. However, judging by sheer popularity, marketing success, and attention...the Fab-Five took UofM Basketball into the stratosphere. That's all I was implying. Yes there was a UofM bball before the Fab-Five, just like there was a college basketball before the Fab-Five, but I think it's safe to say those boys changed both forever (for better or worse).


January 27th, 2010 at 8:11 PM ^

His teammate (as well as himself, only he wasn't implicated by the internal investigation, so we'll ignore it) did something that he knew at the time had the potential to cause severe damage to the Michigan basketball program. Furthermore, those actions did harm the team. We seem to be forgetting that Chris Webber was instrumental in ensuring that the likely tournament-bound 2002-03 team was banned from postseason play. And we are supposed to forgive this? I think not.

Chris Webber's actions completely screwed over what was perhaps the most talented Michigan team this decade and shamed the university. Inviting him back would be a mark against Michigan's integrity, while disrespecting the '02-03 team that he screwed over. He should never be invited back.


January 27th, 2010 at 8:54 PM ^

He was responsible for more wins than loses.
He was responsible for more ticket and merch sales than revenue loses.
Inviting him back wouldn't be a "mark against Michigan's integrity", it would be a way to improve recruiting. He is a smart, personable guy with a lot of influence. The University knew what was going on, so please don't act as if the program was high and mighty if not for this one bad seed.

He should be welcomed back with open arms. Immediately.


January 27th, 2010 at 10:11 PM ^

Yes, a substantial number of people who should have stopped this did not. Namely the basketball coaching staff (all of whom are gone) and the compliance office (whom I have plenty of questions for, but I don't know what happened as a result of the scandal to the compliance office, so I'm not going to leap to conclusions). However, the fact that other people (most of whom have left the university) are also responsible does not excuse his actions.

Chris Webber did not by any means screw over Michigan singlehandedly, but he still egregiously violated the terms of being a student-athlete at the University of Michigan and Michigan suffered as a result. His actions, combined with the actions of others, served to severely damage the university and the university correctly attempted to dissociate itself from the highly corrupt elements in its past, in order to attempt to rebuild a sense of integrity with regards to our basketball program. So yes, I do take issue with the idea that we should welcome him back because it would benefit recruiting, because it would undo the attempt to rebuild our integrity for the sole purpose of trying to make our team better.

EDIT: For the record, I was three when the Fab Five played. So my only experience with them was watching the '02-03 team get screwed. So I don't have any emotional attachment to those players.


January 27th, 2010 at 10:19 PM ^

So, because Webb as a young teenager (as early as 13) took some money (just as countless kids still do today), he should permanently be banned from the University? He didn't bet on games (he just won them). He didn't get into fights (although he did beat down Laetner metaphorically). A permanent ban? Right.

Welcoming Chris back would not undo any integrity, but it would help to close the book on any scandal era, and usher in a new era in Michigan basketball. Imagine how excited kids would be to hang with Webb, JRose and Jimmy...

Maybe it's because you were a toddler when they played that your comments ignore reality and fairness. I was a freshman with the Fab 5. To call Webber highly corrupt is highly retarded.


January 28th, 2010 at 2:24 AM ^

You claim that Chris Webber's offense is mitigated because he chose to take money as a teenager? I hate to break it to you, but it's not. Just because someone is a teenager does not mean that he did not know that he was doing something wrong, something that could have serious consequences for both himself and others in the future. He chose to do it anyway and I have no problem with him paying dearly for the consequences.

I did not see a single game featuring the Fab 5. I, like the university, feel that we never won a game while Webber was there, just as I feel that the university never won a game when Taylor, Traylor, or Bullock was there (I actually did witness some of those later Michigan teams). As I do not believe that any of them were responsible for a single basketball victory, as far as I am concerned, the only thing that any of them did for the university (not the fans, but the institution) is earn increased revenue through merchandise and ticket sales. As that money was earned in circumstances that were contrary to NCAA regulations, I wish that the university would pay it back somehow (although I know this never will, or possibly even can happen). However, I am glad that the university has distanced itself from the people responsible (not just Webber, but Taylor, Traylor, Bullock, Martin (who was obviously the worst of everyone involved), Fisher, etc.). What happened was the result of a highly corrupt system within the institution and the major people within that system were properly excised from the institution.

To sum up my view on the matter, a group of people who provided Michigan with a total of zero victories broke rules that resulted in a later group of Michigan basketball players getting banned from from the postseason. This meant that LaVell Blanchard never got to go to the NCAA tournament. THAT IS COMPLETELY UNFAIR AND THE FAULT OF EVERY PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR HANDING OUT MONEY, TAKING MONEY, OR ENSURING COMPLIANCE. Now why, exactly, should the university be at all lenient to any of the core group of people who are responsible for this?

Your answer is that it would make recruits excited and help us close the book on the scandal era. I personally feel that his ability to benefit recruiting isn't very important (and I question whether Beilein, who is a leader in the field of NCAA Basketball ethics, would welcome him aboard), and I don't see how this helps close the book on the scandal era. Unless you mean that we should pretend that the scandal era never happened, which I sincerely hope that you do not.


January 28th, 2010 at 11:33 AM ^

Wow. That post is something else.

First, there is a HUGE difference between a child acting badly and an adult. That's why a 13 year-old faces much different punishment than an adult in criminal matters. The real world views the actions of a child differently from an adult. You don't. Good for you and your high moral bar.

Second, the big, ALL CAPS, it's-so-unfair result of Webb's actions (according to you) is that LaVell Blanchard never got to the tourney? Really? That's the most terrible thing? Look, it would have been nice, but you, LaVell and his family might be the only ones to even think about that.

You don't want to pretend that the scandal era never happened...But you do want to pretend that the Fab 5 didn't exist, didn't win games, didn't change basketball. You just choose to forget the good times and fill your head with bad. Try to remember the reality (even if you weren't old enough to actually know who you're talking about). It was amazing.


January 28th, 2010 at 2:55 PM ^

I'll adress each of your points individually:

1. First of all, Webber didn't just take money at age 13. He took money while in college. This was a major violation of NCAA regulations that he was, in part, responsible for. Now, if I were to, for instance, be given the answers from a test multiple times at school, I would justly be expelled for my offense. In effect, I would be cut off from the university. Webber also committed a major rules violation and he should pay the price, especially as he harmed others through this act in addition to himself.

2. How is it that depriving the 02-03 team of the chance to go to the NCAA tournament does not qualify as major damage? Why should we mitigate this? Because only one team, one group of individuals was harmed? Seriously?

3. The scandal era meant that the Fab Five never happened because they had been compromised by the fact that a starter (Webber) gave up his amateur status by taking money. I give Webber's accomplishments no more credence than McGwire's home-run record. Both seemed great at the time, but we know in retrospect that the results were illicit and therefore fake.