Twenty years ago a group of basketball players from Michigan were changing the landscape of college basketball. A year removed from their freshman season, the ‘Fab Five' were on their way to the National Championship game against North Carolina. It was their second championship game appearance and would go down as the most memorable.
Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson brought a different attitude and swagger to the court and although they had their championship game appearances removed from the record books due to sanctions the school imposed on themselves on the heels of under-the-table money had been received by Weber from a booster.
The game itself saw North Carolina defeat the Wolverines 77-71, but it was the play by Chris Weber with 11 seconds left that has become one of the most talked about and most replayed moment in the history of college basketball. Trailing 73-71, Webber corralled a rebound off of a missed North Carolina free-throw. The sophomore who would play his last game as a member of the Wolverines should have been called for a traveling violation, but brought the ball into the front court and in front of his own bench signaled for a timeout to allow setting up for a final shot. The problem was Michigan didn't have a timeout to use and a technical foul was called leading to Donald Williams making four free-throws.
Webber who led the Wolverines in the game with 23 points and 11 rebounds, left the program and was drafted first overall by the Orlando Magic before being traded to the Golden State Warriors. King and Rose added 15 and 12 while Howard and Jackson pitched in a combined 13 points in the loss.
Williams would never play in the NBA despite being named the most outstanding player in the tournament scoring a game high 25 points for North Carolina.
Putting the past behind
Michigan is making its first Final Four appearance since 1993 and while Weber still has a school mandated 10 year ban from the program, the other four will be in attendance when the Wolverines face Louisville in the championship game tonight. They hope Webber joins.
It would be a reunion 20 years in the making as Webber has kept his distance from the university since the booster scandal. The seventh final four appearance in Wolverines history has everyone talking about the original five and the hope that with a win by the team in the national championship game that 20 years later, they can take their place in Michigan basketball history.