The strong implication of Chris Webber’s comments on this morning’s Dan Patrick Show is that, if he could begin his basketball career again, he would have accepted Tom Izzo’s offer to become a Michigan State Spartan:
While Webber undoubtedly was the most talented member of Michigan’s Fab Five, another member, Jalen Rose, has, since his playing days ended, been its most vocal member. Webber works as an NBA broadcaster, and he began covering the NCAA tournament this year, so he doesn’t lack a national platform, but Rose has placed himself on a different level, first through his own efforts, and more recently through his connection with ESPN, Grantland, and Bill Simmons.
It was those connections that allowed Rose a controlling role in the making of The Fab Five, a 2011 ESPN Films documentary about him, Webber, Juan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson, and their days in Ann Arbor. While it was Rose’s controversial comments in the film about Grant Hill that drew the most public attention in the immediate aftermath of the movie’s release, Webber’s non-participation in the project also was well-noted.
After The Fab Five, Rose continued to use his expanding role at ESPN to advance the Fab Five legacy, including a characterization of Webber’s non-involvement with contemporary Fab Five activities, such as the movie and a reunion at the 2013 NCAA tournament finals, in which Michigan was appearing for the first time since the Fab Five took them there exactly twenty years before, and which was taking place in Atlanta, where Webber now lives in connection with his NBA broadcasting work, as stubborn, unreasonable, and in poor spirit.
Rose is a friend of this site, and I continue to enjoy his unique voice in the sports media landscape, but as concerns his relationship with Webber, to which Rose has drawn significant attention in the last few years, Webber’s comments this morning place that relationship in a new light.
Regarding his participation in the documentary, Webber, whose comments were littered with thinly veiled allusions to Rose, revealed that he wanted to participate, but that no one contacted him until the project was nearly over, which made him feel unwanted and left him with insufficient time in which to become meaningfully involved.
For Webber, Rose has violated the terms of an agreement the Fab Five made with each other that none of them would seek to become bigger than the group, a pact that Webber, in his mind, has upheld.
Patrick also asked Webber, Michigan’s (high school) Mr. Basketball in 1991, about his decision to spurn Izzo, who was recruiting Webber to attend Michigan State, and go to Michigan. Webber responded by praising Izzo, explaining that the two continue to keep in touch. Patrick followed up by asking Webber if he would do things differently were he beginning his basketball career again:
DP: If I gave you a mulligan, knowing everything you know now–
CW: Oh, don’t do that, don’t do that, don’t do that. You know what, the truth is this: I don’t want– I don’t want to answer that honestly, in the mood that I’m in.
DP: Well then I know what the answer’s going to be. I know what the answer will be.
CW: I’m just– I’m just, yeah, yeah, I don’t want to answer that honestly with the mood that I’m in.
There you have it, folks: Chris Webber wishes he was a Michigan State Spartan.