Homecoming for the Ages: The Return of Chris Webber

For many college alumni, homecoming is a fascinating time. For many, they are able to catch up with old professors who motivated them, reminisce with…

For many college alumni, homecoming is a fascinating time. For many, they are able to catch up with old professors who motivated them, reminisce with friends about the wild antics they pulled, not to mention catch up with old crushes. For former college athletes who went on to become successful in their respective sport or beyond, they are able meet that head coach who challenged and push them beyond the limit and catch up with teammates to talk about those grueling practices and epic games they’ll never forget against those rival teams. This homecoming season at the University of Michigan will definitely be one to remember as Chris Webber, former star of the Michigan Wolverines basketball team, will make his way back to Ann Arbor, Michigan after 25 years.

Via an invite from University of Michigan Head Football and alumnus Jim Harbaugh, Chris Webber plans on making a trip back UM to serve as an honorary football captain for a game during the season. Webber accepted this honor during a live appearance on The M Zone Radio Podcast where Coach Harbaugh called in and sent the request. Webber simply replied, “Coach, you know that’s no problem.” He went on to say, “I love what you’ve done with the program and good luck. And yeah, I will definitely be a part of it. You know I would do anything for you. The No. 4s at Michigan need to stick together,” referring to the jersey number “4” that they both wore while playing at Michigan during the respective times for football and basketball programs.

For those who have followed this timeline know Webber’s relationship with the university is complicated. Before he was a current commentator for Turner Sports and 5-time NBA All-Star, Webber played at UM and was a part of the legendary, “Fab Five” which consisted of Webber along with Ray Jackson, Jimmy King and future former NBA greats Juwan Howard and Jalen Rose, now an ESPN correspondent. Though Webber will forever be thought of for his costly mistake, calling timeout in the 1993 championship against University of North Carolina, the then five freshmen were and are still known even more for their style of play and uniform style that shook the college landscape.

In the early 1990s, with rap culture on the rise, it was emulated in their play with a streetball edge and mentality, along with fashion statements on the court that included baggy shorts, black shoes and socks along bald heads. They were by far the most influential group players, leading the Michigan Wolverines to consecutive national championship appearances from 1991- 93, and inspiring generations of players that would come after them during the process. What makes the relationship complicated is that after Webber left for the NBA after his sophomore season, he was implicated in an NCAA investigation for accepting improper benefits from booster Ed Martin, resulting in a 10-year ban, vacating their wins and removal of the banners when “The Fab Five” made their appearances in the national championship, practically eradicating their legacy from college hoops. But for those who watched them play at the time, the legacy falls under the old saying, “if you speak their name and they’ll will never die.”

Though the ban placed has been lifted since 2013, Webber has been resistant to make the visit to Ann Arbor. A lot of people feel that this invitation coming back is a step in the right direction for making amends in this relationship, which includes former college teammate, Jalen Rose. Rose, on his show, ESPN’s “Get Up” felt elated with this news and felt it was long overdue. Some also wondered if this was a step for all members of the illustrious ‘Fab Five” to get together, as Webber discussed on “The Dan Patrick Show.”  Though it is uncertain what game Webber will make his appearance at, it is guaranteed that there will be major fanfare and a “Homecoming for the ages.”

By: Jamal Clarke

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