Jalen Rose recently took to twitter to voice his displeasure with UM President Mary Sue Coleman’s position that the banners “won” by the Fab 5 won’t be returning to Crisler Center anytime soon.
“I saw that U of Michigan has no plans to put back up our hoops banners. Should I do like most of its former BBallers & never return?” he tweeted. “Or should I ask for the 250k I donated for my Endowed Scholarship back & move it to another school? Stay Tuned.”
Athletic Director David Brandon followed up with the obvious explanation on why the banners won’t be returning:
“We’re not even sure that we could put those banners up,” Brandon said. “If you vacated wins and forfeited wins and basically cleared the record books of any activity, it’s hard to believe we could put back up the banners. We’ve never even gauged with the NCAA to see if that were possible.
“And, truthfully, if we had to forfeit the wins, it doesn’t seem appropriate.”
Members of the Fab 5 believe that their achievements are being unfairly ignored. You especially have to feel for Ray Jackson and Jimmy King, who never achieved success at the pro level like their college teammates Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, and Jalen Rose.
The Chris Webber/Ed Martin scandal wreaked havoc on the Michigan Basketball record book and forever tainted the Fab5 legacy. Many Wolverines fans would be happy to leave the scandal in the past and move on. Jalen clearly agrees with them.
The problem is that Chris Webber is guilty as sin and Jalen is wrong to blame Michigan for the banishment of the Fab 5. That blame rests solely on the shoulders of Webber. To blame Michigan would be like Jalen blaming the police for his recent DUI. In that incident Jalen rightly accepted blame for his actions:
“I have no one to blame but myself for endangering the community,” he told the judge.
But Jalen doesn’t use the same criteria when he chooses to look the other way with scandal brought Michigan by former teammate Chris Webber and bookie Ed Martin.
Chris Webber is a thief. His blatant disregard for the rules robbed the rest of the Fab 5 of their legacy and destroyed the memories of those seasons in the minds of Wolverine fans. He also stole from his opponents, it wasn’t enough that he had more talent in his pinky finger than many of them. He also didn’t need to burden himself with the same rules as the common players.
Webber’s post-Michigan career was also marked by a failure to follow the rules. When Chris was caught with drugs he denied responsibility. When he got a speeding ticket, the community didn’t appreciate him. When called to testify against bookie Ed Martin he lied through his teeth. Eventually his lies caught up with him and he was suspended for violating the NBA anti-drug policy and being forced to plead guilty to one charge of criminal contempt for lying to a federal grand jury.
Webber has never never expressed any regret for the dishonor he brought to Michigan. Perhaps if he had I might have some sympathy for him.
So the main reason for the banners not returning to Crisler Center from the dim archives of the Bentley Library are practical. The games have been erased so the banners are null and void. You can thank Chris Webber for that.
But there’s another more philosophical reason for the banners to stay buried.
To borrow a popular phrase these days- “THIS IS MICHIGAN…”
The Fab 5 never won a Big Ten title. The regular season was a mere inconvenience for them. And as far was being National Champion runner-ups, I can tell you as someone who attended Michigan during their reign, nobody was throwing them a parade for coming in second two years in a row. If you’re excited about losing in the Final Four you need to head up to East Lansing- they got that covered up there.
But I do offer a compromise. Disregarding his DUI Jalen has been an outstanding example of a Michigan Man since leaving the University of Michigan. He has contributed his time and money to many worthy charities and endowed a scholarship at Michigan. For these reasons, I propose that Michigan raise an unnamed #5 jersey to the rafters of Crisler Center.
For those willing to ignore the misdeeds of Chris Webber it can represent the Fab 5.
For the rest of us it can serve as a reminder to always question things that are simply too good to be true.