Jalen discusses CWebb

Submitted by JeepinBen on October 19th, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Nice little interview with Simmons as they chat CWebb. The story about how Jalen met Chris was great, and it's really interesting to me that both Jalen and CWebb are now so very active members of the media.




October 19th, 2012 at 11:57 AM ^


Obviously I cannot say with the insight that Jalen can, but I thought at the time and have become more convinced over time that "the timeout" had an emotional impact on Webber that went deeper than sport.  His press-conference after the game looked like actual acute shock, like a person who had just watched a family member die, and his personality (at least the personality visible to the public) went from fairly open and free spirited to angry and kind of paranoid.  He had incredible pressure on him at a very young age, and also I think had unrealistic expectations of himself as to how great he needed to be, and I think the timeout was like a bomb to his psyche.  I don't think Webber ever became half the player he could been as a pro and I think a lot of it traces back to that moment.


October 19th, 2012 at 1:08 PM ^

Interesting thoughts there. Granted I was too young to ever watch him at UM but from replays I've seen over the years it seems as though he was a pretty vocal and charismatic leader during his time here. I did follow his NBA career and he always seemed more comfortable stepping aside and letting someone else take the reigns in tight games. He never really came off as likable during his time in the league either, but I wonder if that was more a function of him going from top of the world caliber player to decent middling guy as his career progressed.

The FannMan

October 19th, 2012 at 1:21 PM ^

I was an undergrad when the Fab Five were there.  I recall CWebb as being the most vocal and charismatic of the five.  I would put Jalen as a closed second, but Chris was the face of team.  

That was twenty years ago, so I could be wrong on this.  Wonder if any other old folks out there recall it the same way I do.


October 19th, 2012 at 1:31 PM ^

was unquestionaly the most charismatic, but not always the most vocal.  Chris was the biggest, most intimidating presence on the team, but Jalen was the alpha dog of the group.  Webber never seemed comfortable in his skin, like people expected more of him than they actually did or that he expected more of himself than he actually could give.  Put another way, Jalen's confidence came from within, the outcome of the game never had any effect on his self-perception, he believed in who he ways, win or lose, accepted or rejected.  Webber's self-perception always seemed to be shaped by external events and other's perceptions of who he was or how good he was.  Jalen would have shrugged the timeout off, and truly understood that the game was lost during the first 39 minutes and not the final minute.  Webber's personality was not defined enough at the time to allow himself that out.  He internalized that entire event and it became who he was. 


October 19th, 2012 at 4:05 PM ^

That was exactly correct...

the oddes thing to me has been the reputations of the individuals within Detroit to this day.  I feel like most in the city generally dislike Webber, while everyone loves Jalen...




October 19th, 2012 at 1:53 PM ^

Webber had much more hype going in.  He played at a Class B school and was often the biggest player on the floor by 6 inches and 50 pounds.  If there was ever a time when the old cliche "man among boys" was appropriate, it was when Webber played at Country Day.  Jalen, OTOH, played in the PSL, and people thought at the time that he was "too big" to play PG.  

I hated that Webber cheated and disgraced the University of Michigan, but he was definitely seen as "THE MAN" when he got to Ann Arbor.  Webber may have been the dominant personality on the outside, but Rose was the leader.  

Webber grew up middle class, but pretended to be "ghetto."  Rose, meanwhile, grew up poor, never forgot his roots, and stayed classy.  I think it's obvious who the real leader was.


October 19th, 2012 at 2:08 PM ^

He pretended to be "ghetto" because he could not just BE.   He had been protected from many things because of his family's money and talent.   He knew he was expected to "be something" but could not figure out what to be or how to be it.   He was both extremely perceptive and filled with self-doubt.   I think it is easy to think of Webber as a villian, but that is not how I think of him.     


October 19th, 2012 at 2:52 PM ^

I think this is exactly right.  I was there on campus with the Fab Five also and you could tell that Webber wanted to be himself (a soft-spoken gentle giant, if you will) but wouldn't let himself because of the pressure and expectation.  I totally agree with the theory that the Timeout has unfortunately defined his Michigan persona to the extent that he hates his college experience.  Its so, so sad because so many people like all of us enjoyed hours of entertainment just from watching him on the court.  He was truly an amazing player and did SO much for the University. 

That's why its been hard for me to stomach the school's position of divorcing themselves from him.  I know, I know - it was necessary.  But it just doesn't seem right after everything that the school, its students, alumni, and fans in general received from his contributions to Michigan.  IMO, its high time that the school finds a way to go out of its way to honor him.  I understand Mary Sue's position and I have a lot of respect for her, but its almost criminal not to recognize his contributions to the school and the sport of college basketball as a whole, which have been much greater that others that have been similarly recognized.

Two Hearted Ale

October 19th, 2012 at 4:25 PM ^

His actions are part of what set the basketball program back ten years. No matter how you feel about Webber his legacy will always include NCAA violations. I don't agree with the NCAA on their rules governing amateurism but the rules were in place when he played and he agreed to abide by them.

I find it disappointing that a fan base that almost universally pans players at other universities who take money is so willing to look the other way when it comes to Chris Webber. We don't have to hate him (I don't) but we certainly shouldn't honor him.


October 19th, 2012 at 5:31 PM ^

I understand that argument and can appreciate it.  But I'll never side with it now that there is so much water under the bridge.  Now, he's just a man that loved and gave so much to his school that he deserves an honor bestowed on someone of his caliber.  I'm sure our beloved alumni liks Angell, Ross, etc. have done some things that the University would frown on if they knew.  But I do understand your point and do not begrudge you for it.  I just feel differently.


Willis Ward

October 19th, 2012 at 6:21 PM ^

Just like the whole "how big of a rival is MSU" seems to be answered primarily based on where you live (if you are outside of the state of Michigan there are not a lot of Spartans around so, even after 4 losses, Sparty isn't as big of a deal as OSU or ND), I think people's feelings on the FabFive, and Webber in particular, are based on where you were when they were on campus.

If you were a kid in your formative years of fandom (like I was) or a student on campus it is pretty hard to hate them.  Or even have much ill will toward them about the punishment that appropriately followed their crimes.  It is impossible to describe what it was like to be 13 years old and sitting behind juwan howard at a movie at Briarwood (these guys were the first celebrities Michigan ever had...they were so much bigger than any other athlete that had stepped on campus to that point).  And they were just ON campus.  Not hanging out on the sports campus...but on the regular campus.    They existed in a moment when college athletics exploded from a fame standpoint, but the athletes still were part of the general student body.  They were like nothing anyone had seen before and no one has seen it since.

Watching the student section during those two years blows away anything I've seen out of the Maize Rage (not intended to be a slight).  I've been going to games at Crisler since 1984 and nothing comes close to the atmosphere for the game against Duke the Fab Five's freshman year.  For those of us that were there, yes the Fab Five has left a black eye on Michigan but they also are a part of our history...and with the bad there was also a whole lot of good.

On the other side, if your only first hand knowledge of the Fab Five is based on the scandal and the punishment that followed, I understand wanting no part of them.

Was the scandal embarrasing?  Hell yes it was.  But I wouldn't trade those 5 guys or those two years for the world.  I guess you had to be there.


October 19th, 2012 at 9:33 PM ^

Agree, well said.  And while we don't excuse people for their wrong-doings, growing up ghetto and with poverty/problems often helps us to be forgiving when judging others.  In this case, CWebb came in privaledged, yet troubled in some ways that was well hidden.  I do believe he felt too much pressure, felt like he had to be and do too much - that it in fact hurt him in the long run.


October 19th, 2012 at 9:20 PM ^

I'm the same age as the Fab Five - CWebb scored 50 against me in high school (Ypsi).  Your analysis is correct.  CWebb, then Jalen, then Howard were the vocal leaders.  Not all games followed this order, as some days others would take the vocal leadership.  They fed off each other and played with tremendous 





They played like a family.  They received so much shit for their looks, brash attitudes, etc.  Much of it was very unfair.  They actually played great team ball and truly, truly cared about each other and loved helping others score rather than scoring themselves.

For those who are younger here who don't really know/remember the Fab Five era, I feel bad for you.  I have never, and I expect I never will, experience such excitement watching others play basketball.  

While the scandals hurt thier reputation, and CWebbs distance after leaving the program also hurt, it has been great to see Jalen (always my favorite, by the way) become so successful off the court and wear his love for UM on his sleeve.  IMO, Jalen is a true Michigan Man and deserves to be held as one of the most important UM athletes of the past couple generations.


October 19th, 2012 at 3:25 PM ^

here are selling him short)--he may have been the best, and was definitely among the very best, passing forwards to ever play the game. Some of whether he's perceived that way is luck, who you end up playing for (if you're not in that magic circle of Jordan, Bird, Magic, LeBron, Kobe). He was stuck in Sacramento. Go to youtube and check out the highlights; guy was pretty magical at times. 

As for Chris being withdrawn, a little bit careful--true. But he also had long, long stretches of affable openness and candor, at least about most things. I don't know if it was an annual thing, but I remember him getting some kind of NBA Best Interview award, often being cited as a great interview.

I think the TO incident DID scar him--he saw how cruel people could be. But how can you not mention the scandal in the same breath as the time out if you are talking about why Chris is a little bit wary of people? First, there's simple feelings of guilt. Second--as with Talley calling for the TO--there's more to the story. (Saying he was middle class doesn't close the door on EVERY other financial consideration.) Third, there's the fact that, guilty or not, he was a kid.

But the statute of limitations never lifts on this kind of scandal, on people's anger. Watch the comments any time the subject of Webber comes up. Tons of anger, including hatred out there 25 years later. This is a society that pretends to believe in redemption, and in paying for crimes. But we also enjoy watching people hang in the wind, getting pilloried, sometimes when they fry. My point: pretty natural to be wary if you're him.


October 19th, 2012 at 9:27 PM ^

perfect post.

TO and scandal both affected either his outlook or love for the game - or at least what he showed publicly.

I think it is fair to say that his NBA locations and lack of final success there (no championships) haunted him, even moreso b/c he never won it in college and he knew/believed that he could have or should have.  I felt like he used to play for love and dominance, and later he played to prove something to people.  I'm certain of this, but this is not a good way to play any sport - it will often limit ultimate success as well as your own joy of the game.

Lastly, his knees and body just couldn't match his competitive spirit.  He wanted to be able to do so much, but his body limited his own talent.

I miss CWebb.  I miss the Fab Five. 

My son wears number 5 for his 11 year old basketball team here in Korea, playing a tall point guard and was MVP of the tournament this past month.  He sports black socks and baggy shorts.  Some things leave a permenant impression on folks.  And for reasons that are partially unexplainable, the Fab Five era was more powerful on a segment of a basketball generation than can really be explained - it is something that had to be lived.

Johnny Blood

October 19th, 2012 at 3:37 PM ^

It may have affected him, but I think his chronic back problems were what really held him back as a pro.  Look at his rookie year (immediately after the time-out game) when he was fully healthy -- he was truly unstoppable.  His dunk on Barkley is still one of my all-time favorite NBA highlights.  


October 19th, 2012 at 12:20 PM ^

The fact that C-webb never threw him under the bus for yelling at him to call at TO was always something I respected him for. While it was still his responsibility to know how many were left, at that moment I would have probably called TO with someone on my bench yelling at me to do that.


October 19th, 2012 at 1:22 PM ^

a lot of that makes sense...he seems to be doing that but everyone deals with things differently.  Thats a tough thing to go through, I was 13 at the time and cried after that lost (as well as avoided light blue for 15 years) so I can only imagine what he went through


October 19th, 2012 at 3:34 PM ^

I remember watching that game. I was 12. I cried too.

It was the single biggest stomach punch I have ever witnessed in sports, from my own perspective. Makes the Horror look like Child's Play.

I think, as with most of the fan base, that I have differing opinions on C-Webb. I thank god I was able to watch the Fab 5 and experience them when they were around, and he was the crown jewel in that class. I loved watching him play, and believe that he is underrated when it comes to all-time players at both the collegiate and pro level. From all accounts, he was soft-spoken and sincere. My friend's mom shared an elevator with him once and said he was the nicest person she had ever met, with a smile that lit up a room.

On the other hand, his transgressions led to the biggest athletics scandal in Michigan history, and his lack of ownership and remorse for what happened troubles me. I hate that UM wants to distance themselves from him, and vice versa. I don't know if I can look past the scar he left on the program. I wish he would just fess up and apologize, and I think many fans would start to forgive him.

On a side note: Ed Martin was helping out kids in the Detroit area for years, not just Michigan basketball players. I wish people would remember that. It always seems like people think Ed Martin was purely a Michigan booster, but he was involved with children when they were just youngsters, not just when they went to Michigan.

Johnny Blood

October 19th, 2012 at 3:50 PM ^

I love that he's got a bat on his shoulder for the interview.  How random is that?  And yet so perfect.

I think they have both turned out to be pretty good analysts, which doesn't surprise me.  Back in the day, I had a lot of friends who didn't like Michigan and always referred to the Fab Five as thugs -- but the reality was (and is) that both Chris and Jalen in particular are actually very smart guys.

I do wish for some sort of reconciliation.  Unfortunately I don't see it coming anytime soon though.


October 19th, 2012 at 4:04 PM ^

in his final high-school game in the state finals (the first glimpse of his game that many in the state had), he made everyone else on the court look like a middle-schooler wrt both size and skill.

he always came across as a sensitive type in his interviews and off-court demeanor during the fab5 era.  he shouldn't have been expected to carry the weight of those ridiculous expectations, but some people aren't able to just shrug off those external pressures.  imho, the vitriol many direct at him (both for the timeout and the scandal) is unfair and misdirected. he was a teenager in the middle of a maelstrom the likes of which i couldn't even imagine.


October 19th, 2012 at 4:32 PM ^

I await the justified Cool Story Bro's

I had an elective with the Fab Five my sophomore year, as well as several football players.  T'was Intro to Urban Planning.  I took it because I was applying to architecture school and it seemed relevant to my interests.  The athletes, to be truthful, probably took it because it had a (deserved) reputation as an easy blow off class.  (I found that out much later from another U-M guy in my office.)  The Fab Five were middling on class attendance, but not more so than everyone else in class - this was a class you could easily pass with sub 50% attendance.

We were mostly agape at all the X's on Chris' extra large sweatshirt he worse inside out (don't judge a bro; it was the 90's), but they were all chill and didn't speak that much.  Don't think I ever heard anyone but Rose and Webber speak in class. Then again neither did most of us civvies.  I mostly remember Doug Skene, one of the offensive lineman, in a group session snerking that Elvis Grbac wasn't really a fun guy.