Chris Webber has retired from the NBA. This isn't just a sports story for me, this feels like something more.
In the fall of 1991 I was 17 years old. I caught an NCAA basketball game on television and the commentators were talking about these five freshmen who were all starting. Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwon Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson played above the rim and I was smitten. After that, I caught every Michigan Wolverines basketball game I could, followed the team as closely as possible and sang their praises to my brothers. I loved that team.
I've got to dig up the Michigan leather jacket I bought that year. This thing was loud and proud but I wore it religiously and although I haven't worn it in well over a decade, I know I never threw it out. I couldn't.
In 1992 and 1993 my Wolverines played in the NCAA title game, losing both times. I'll never forget that second loss. Earlier in the day, I learnt my grandfather had passed away. With a heavy heart I sat down to watch Webber, Rose, Howard, King and Jackson and the game ended with the infamous time-out that wasn't. A mental gaffe by Chris Webber sealed their fate and that summer Webber announced his eligibility for the NBA draft.
Chris Webber has retired, without an NCAA title or an NBA title. Although he had a very good career, my lofty expectations for him went unfulfilled. When C-Webb, the best of the Fab Five, left Michigan, he took with him a great deal of my NCAA passion. I haven't enjoyed March Madness the same since.
As he goes, so goes a part of my youth. I guess you had to be there. I was.