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Friday, January 19, 2007

A little timeout from college football to welcome the newest Piston

Former Wolverine basketballer Chris Webber made his debut with the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. Webber, who was bought out by the Philadelphia 76ers earlier in the week, chose to play with his hometown Pistons instead of signing with a number of other interested teams.

But will he be welcome back in Michigan? Judging by the standing ovation that he received by Piston fans at The Palace while he attended Monday's game, and when he entered the game on Wednesday, it would seem like all is forgotten. But then maybe there were a lot of Spartan fans in attendance.

Webber has been persona non grata in Ann Arbor, and among most Michigan fans ,since it was alleged that he accepted $280,000 from former Michigan booster Ed Martin. In 2002, Webber admitted that he lied to a grand jury which was investigating Martin.

In this age of athletes getting cheered despite being hardened criminals, serial abusers, and having more kids out of wedlock than they do rebounds per game, all Webber has on his blotter is perjury. Not exactly a spotless record, but hardly a menace to society.

Of course Michigan fans take the perjury personally. Webber's eventual admission of accepting money from Martin continued Michigan's death spiral in basketball that began when Webber called the ill-fated timeout in the championship game against North Carolina in 1993. The Wolverines have made the NCAA tournament only four times since then, and not at all since 1998.

There's no doubt that Webber deserves blame for helping ruin Michigan basketball after his departure for the NBA. And though taking money from a booster is not a crime to society at large, as college athletics go, it's severe. But to continue to loathe Chris Webber - and to blame him for the current sad state of Michigan basketball - is excessive.

Would I cheer for Webber when Mason introduces him at The Palace if I were in attendance? Probably not. But I also wouldn't boo him and/or heckle him throughout the game. My hatred for Webber, much like his effect on the Michigan basketball program, has washed away.


The following is a rebuttal by Yost to Benny's post above.

I still loathe him. He's a cheater. Period. Next question.

(Thanks to AS for the story suggestion)


TitleIX said...

i'm just curious--why is he wearing the number 84?

and as for his big 'homecoming'?
I'm still bitter and annoyed and although I wouldn't heckle or boo, I can't stand him....

Matthew said...

He said his nephew had a dream of him playing for the Pistons wearing 84, so he went with it (since 4, obviously, was unavailable).

Norm Gregory said...

In the interest of accuracy Webber never admitted taking money. He confessed he lied about repaying the money.

Andy said...

The NBA is irrelevant. Chris Weber could dunk the ball with his ass-cheeks and I still would not care.

Major League pitchers and catchers report to spring training on February 15th. The defending Big10 champion Michigan Baseball team opens on Feb 23rd.

Reed said...

Webber certainly harmed the program. However, there were two other incidents that harmed it more. The first was Steve Fisher's complete inability to coach players. The team was entirely frustrating when I was there ('97 grad). So much so, that I stopped rooting for Michigan, started pulling for Illinois and NONE of my friends thought that was unreasonable. Robert Traylor weighed 350 pounds and couldn't box out. He should have been doing that by accident.

The other incident was the car crash well outside of Ann Arbor when Mateen Cleaves was on his recruiting visit. They violated NCAA recruiting laws by taking him off campus to begin with. And they were driving a car that had some sketchy ownership. I can't remember all the details, but I can remember that it was a really big deal.

I'm not saying Webber was blameless, but it's not as if the program tried to clean things up after that. I was always terrified that Fisher's basketball program was somehow going to hurt football or hockey via the NCAA.

drakeep said...

Given the state of the program how long does Tommy have if they continue to me Big Ten mediocre?

Da Braylon said...

He's aight.

Da Braylon said...

I think Tommy is doing just fine. He is young and energetic. That is exactly what they need as a coach.

Da Braylon said...

The OSU fans on www.ozone.net are very hostile. I was just asking them questions and occasionally defending yhe boys in Maize and Blue and the site owner banned me after posting about 20 comments. Wow. How pathetic. They can troll our boards but we can't do the same to them. Unreal.

Da Braylon said...

Can we ban them from our board, or should we not because that would make us stoop to their level?

Jim said...

I guess I've always taken a bit of ostrich-eye view of Webber's transgressions. I was in school with the Five, played ball with them on the court in front of South Quad, and enjoyed the hell out of their Tournament runs. The TO was gut-wrenching, but I'm not going to crucify him for a panicky brain-fart.

And not to defend him excessively, but breaking NCAA rules and cheating on the court aren't quite the same thing (unless you're referrring to something else, Yost). Barry Bonds is a cheater; Webber was a 19 year-old kid with a stack of cash in his face. And are we going to pretend he was the only athelete on campus taking money or favors from boosters? Doesn't make it okay, but let's be real.

P.S. See, no pop-ups!

Maize n Brew Dave said...

I'm with Yost. Screw him. Webber's a douchebag.

$280,000 is still more than most nba players were making at the time of his infractions. He knew what he was doing and he didn't care. He hung a lot of people out to dry to cover his own ass and stained the University.

As far as I'm concerned he's not welcome at Crisler, on campus, or even in Ann Arbor.

Kieran said...

Webber is overrated, he has been going downhill ever since he averaged 27ppg in 00-01. Yeah C-Webb will get you maybe 15ppg and 8rpg but is it worth the virus he brings to a team?


JD said...

Uhhh....What Yost said.

MGoBlue93 said...

I guess since we're getting to the point where the incoming freshmen will be just have been born during the fab five days, Webber will be forgiven and probably be around the program much more when the restraining order expires.

Not me... those were my days at U-M. I wouldn't give Webber the sweat off of my balls in a water shortage. I don’t care that the University makes money off of their athletes. That argument is tired and lame. And when one accepts a full ride, and signs their name to the dotted line, they fully should understand what they are getting into – and that doesn’t include "back pay" from boosters.

Do I hate Webber... no. I don't hate anyone. But Webber did nothing to tarnish our beloved institution and anyone who carries the title of "Michigan Man" (or Woman).