It wasn’t supposed to end that way.
Once a long time ago, the Fab 5 ruled the world. As a University of Michigan during their reign, basketball made for a welcome diversion.
Their swagger, their style, and most of the all their play made them the talk of the country.
Wherever you went people were wearing Michigan gear.
Some older alums shunned their brazen style but most of the country embraced them as budding superstars.
As freshman they came up short in the national championship game but they returned to claim what was surely their pre-ordained championship the following season.
Of course, we know what happened. Michigan didn’t win, falling to North Carolina 77-71 in the 1993 final. It was painful to watch.
Chris Webber declared for the NBA draft and the Fab 5 were no more.
And in a perfect world the story would have ended there. A great team comes up short on the court but makes a huge cultural impact before eventually going pro for NBA riches.
Of course, that wasn’t to be.
Mistakes made during their high school careers would come back to haunt some members of the Fab 5.
Webber, Rose, and Howard would go on to have successful NBA careers but the fallout from the booster scandal that began during their time in Ann Arbor and continued after their departure would result in many of their records being erased by the NCAA.
The scandal would also have grave implications for Michigan basketball program which struggled for years to dig out from the resulting sanctions.
Many Wolverine fans are bitter towards Chris Webber for his role in the scandal.
His comments about Michigan over the years haven’t done much to win over his detractors.
I should know, as I’ve carried around a lot of bitterness towards Webber since his role in the booster scandal became evident. But there is a lot of blame to go around from that era starting with the coaches, parents, and administrators who all should have made better choices themselves. Not to mention a media (here’s looking at you Mitch Albom) who were eager to profit from the hoopla surrounding the Fab 5.
Webber’s mistakes now are over 20 years in past. It’s time to let it go. I doubt he’s the same person who made the wrong decisions back then.
And while I can’t imagine myself ever actively cheering for him, I’m done rooting against him. There’s too much positive happening with Michigan basketball under John Beilein to keep harping on 20 year old mistakes.
Tomorrow the Michigan Wolverine Basketball team will play for the National Championship in Atlanta. Many players on the team grew up idolizing the Fab 5.
At this point according to Jalen Rose, 4 of the Fab 5 will be present at the game. Only Chris Webber, who lives in Atlanta, has not confirmed his attendance.
Let’s be clear- this will be a story whether Chris shows up or not. Right now the story depends on what choice Webber makes tomorrow. Hopefully Jalen will convince him to attend.
It would be a great boost for the team and maybe, just maybe, it would provide the groundwork for continued healing between Webber and the University of Michigan.
Webber can’t change the past but he does have an opportunity to inspire this current team by reuniting with his Fab 5 teammates in Atlanta.
It would be a great way to start writing a new ending for the Fab 5.