Webber On Michigan: I Love The University

The former Fab Five standout will serve as honorary captain at a Michigan football game this fall

Tiki and Tierney
June 26, 2018 - 6:23 pm

USA Today Images

Chris Webber, who has had a contentious relationship with the University of Michigan, will serve as honorary captain at a Michigan football game this fall. 

The former Fab Five standout led the Wolverines to back-to-back Final Fours, which were later vacated after Webber was implicated in an NCAA investigation for accepting improper benefits from booster Ed Martin. Webber was banned from campus for 10 years, and while his ban was lifted in 2013, he is yet to make an appearance in Ann Arbor.

That will change this fall.

“It’s been up and down,” Webber said on Tiki and Tierney, referring to his relationship with the university. “I’ve known Coach Harbaugh for a long time. Coach Schembechler recruited me to go to Michigan as well. I’ve been a big fan of Michigan football. All my boys there – from Desmond Howard to the greatest defender to ever play, Charles Woodson – I’m a big fan. So the last few years, coach would call me and say, ‘Chris, come on up to a game. I want you to be a captain.’ I said, ‘Coach, it’s really not time for that yet. It’s your first year. It’s your second year. Get some wins. I don’t want be a distraction coming to the arena. When the time comes and I feel comfortable, I’ll come.’”

That time has apparently come.

“I’m happy to be going back,” he said. “Whether it’s (football or basketball), it’s Michigan. I’m an athlete first. Football season is before the basketball season. Other people are talking to stay relevant on their TV shows.”

That was a not-so-subtle jab at former teammate Jalen Rose, who is happy Webber is returning to Michigan but questioned why he’s not coming back for a basketball game.

“Well, you got to stay relevant,” Webber said, explaining his jab, “and if talking about me or bashing me or trolling me for – how many years has it been?”

Tiki and Tierney, though, didn’t interpret Rose’s comments as insulting.

“History is what it is,” Webber said. “And so, I’ve never said anything negative. So for anything to be negatively said is trolling. Or to ponder – ‘Why would he (do this)?’ – all that’s fake. We got phone numbers. All that’s fake. But it is good to go back. I’m honored that coach asked me. It’s going to be great to go back into The Big House.”

Webber was asked about his relationship with Michigan fans.

“Honestly, I can’t speak for them,” he said. “I don’t know. I would say that I have not helped any perceptions because I haven’t spoken up about anything. People that want to cheer you on, people that want to take your side, I’m not giving them anything. People that want to bash you, your silence is complicit and it lets them say whatever. We can have conversations, but to speak about Michigan and that whole time, it takes a long conversation. And when we can have that conversation and sit down and go through everything and not take soundbites – we can have it.

“For the last five, six years, I’ve been writing a book on my own,” Webber continued. “It’s the hardest thing ever. I would say everybody get a ghostwriter. It’s really hard to do it yourself. Hopefully this year we’ll get to talk and explain. But I am Michigan. The people that went to the school are Michigan. I’ve never had a contentious relationship with the fans. We’re always cool.”

Webber, 45, was the first overall pick in 1993. He won Rookie of the Year, was a five-time All-Star, and played in the NBA until 2008. He led the Kings to the Western Conference Finals in 2002.

“After I called the timeout, about three months later, you got to get ready for the NBA,” Webber said, referring to his championship-game blunder. “You don’t have time to sulk and pout or wonder what if. You got to get over everything right away and go to a different level. If you’re going to the next stage worrying about what happened in the past, you’re not going to be successful. . . . I don’t live in the past. You try to get over it. You try to deal with the pain of calling something so horrific and going through it at 20 years old, but I wanted a long NBA career and I was blessed to have one. I think you only do that by addressing what you need to address, get better and move on. I think the fans at Michigan understood. I get a lot of love there and I love the university.”

Webber also discussed Uncle Drew, which opens in theaters Friday, June 29. The film stars Webber, Kyrie Irving, Shaquille O'Neal, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson​, and Lisa Leslie, among others.