Okay – so outside of Chris Webber, the Fab Five have zero to do with the Sacramento Kings. And despite your opinion of C-Webb, he was and honestly might still be the face of the franchise despite not suiting up for the black and purple in over six years.
Last evening, ESPN debuted their much anticipated Fab Five documentary and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Four of the five members, Juwuan Howard, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson all took part in the piece – but Chris Webber declined after multiple inquires from ESPN. And after watching the piece – it’s easy to see why.
Webber was far from perfect during his time at Michigan – he took money – he lied to a grand jury about it. Anybody with common sense can see that. The question begs though – when did Chris take the money? Depending on who you ask, chances are you’ll never get the same answer. A lot of people close to the situation say Webber took the large sum of money AFTER he declared, but nobody really knows.
After the federal indictments came through on booster Ed Martin and Webber, the fallout, especially at the school, were heavy. The University of Michigan was forced to forfeit a variety of successes – most importantly their 1992 and 1993 NCAA Final Four runs and judging by school President Mary Sue Coleman and Athletic Director Bill Martin – it’s essentially Webber’s fault, despite the fact that many players during Webber’s era and post were paid by (Ed) Martin. Their proposed way to fix the situation? Apologize. Seems easy enough, right?
I don’t think so.
The University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) and the University of Michigan both found success at similar times and both were the first schools to gain mass popularity outside of their respective regions, except for the consistent Duke and North Carolina programs.
The members of the Fab Five changed basketball culture – so much of what you see today, they started it. The baggy shorts? Yep. Shaved heads? Silly as that might seem, yep. Making a fashion statement on the court? The shoes – the black socks – they were the first school to sign an endorsement deal of such magnitude where mass products were created by outside entities. Outside of a few elite NBA players, there was very little marketing of shoes – jerseys, etc – but here were these 18 and 19 year old kids being mass advertised and promoted without their consent.
Sure, we’ve grown accustom to this today – it’s the way it is. But back then? It was essentially unheard of. Both Jalen Rose and Chris Webber were shocked the first time they saw their jerseys hanging in a window for $75 dollars – stunned when they saw their shoes in a sports store selling for over $125. Where was that money going? Certainly not to them. Chris, Jalen, and company had to continually ask for a few bucks here and there to get a tank of gas – buy some food. They were essentially being used and promoted as NBA superstars – but they were driving around in 1981 handed down Honda’s and it was a struggle to gather up enough money for some grub from Taco Bell.
Look – I’m not saying Chris lying was right. He was very wrong. But it’s clear he along with his fellow team members were exploited by the University. At the time, it wasn’t frowned upon because it never really took place. Michigan saw a chance to make some money and they took that opportunity – then ran with it. Do I blame them? I’m not sure I blame them. There is making money to support your program and then there is crossing the line. For them to act void of any influence in this situation is terrible in my mind – and to blame some of the players, especially Chris for their downfall? Disgusting.
There were multiple hands in this cookie jar – Michigan needs to realize they took their fair share of tasty nibbles as well.
For those that missed the showing, you can watch it in two parts on DDotToMen.com