JalenxChris

Listen… I am Detroit, hip hop, Michigan (the school not the State), Black as HAIL, and St. Cecilia all wrapped up in one. Understand, I am all about Chris Webber and Jalen Rose …pause…

and today, these brothas shared a moment on TV we have been waiting in for years. We watched Juwan Howard take Michigan basketball to heights not seen in a long time! We waited for the Fab Five reunion to support him… but when the two biggest names in that group are going back and forth beefin like Biggie and Pac… it makes things difficult.

But today, today on ESPN NBA Countdown, Jalen with his perfect D-boy line up and Chris looking a bit nervous and emotional, spoke about Chris Webber’s induction into the Hall of Fame, and this happened.

If you shed a thug tear, raise your hand!

These two have put us THROUGH it. Let’s have a history lesson.

DEEEE-troit Basketball

So Jalen Rose and Chris Webber are native Detroiters. Chris Webber attended Country Day High School, a wealthy suburban school , and Jalen went to Southwestern, a Detroit Public School. Each spent their summers playing at the legendary St. Cecilia gym under the tutelage of the late Sam Washington Sr. I went to St. Cecilia’s school from 2nd to 8th grade, and their freshman year in high school I watched these two hoop from the bleachers prior to cheerleading practice. I had no idea I was watching future NBA Hall of Famers. Fast forward, second semester of my freshman year of high school (Renaissance c/o ‘94… you know how I get down), we play Southwestern in our gym. The place is packed. At the end of the first half, Jalen inbounds the ball and takes it to a little behind half court. With a flick of the wrist, we all watch this perfectly arced ball leave his hands and stand up… SWISH! Everybody LOST it.

After the game, he’s in the hallway, and my boonapolis and I walk past him. “Hey Jalen”, I say. “Hey wassup lil mama, how you been?” “Good, good game!” “Thanks!” My boonapolis (Greek for bestie) looks at me, mouth agape… “No I don’t know him, just seen him play before.” We were 14 and very much impressed with very little. Lol. A few weeks later Jalen’s team won the Michigan High School Class A Championship and Chris Webber was named Mr. Basketball. They both declared they’d be going to the University of Michigan. And just like that basketball would never be the same.

The FAB FIVE

If you watched basketball from 1991-1993, you know that the Fab Five Michigan Wolverines changed the game. They traded those tight small basketball shorts for the long baggy boys, they wore all black shoes and socks, shunned interviews, played Ice Cube and NWA loud in the locker room, and when they entered March Madness, they shaved their heads. Along with Jalen and Chris, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson set fire to the NCAA and basketball in general… it was like watching dudes at the Rucker play against college teams. They brought all the swag, nasty dunks, and urban flavor to Crisler arena, and added some Black to that Maize and Blue. While Webber declared for the NBA Draft in 1993 going 1st overall, Rose went 13th in the 1994 draft. But while they played together at Michigan, they were definitely the stars of the court and brothas who motivated one another.

What’s Beef

Both had successful careers in the NBA and went on to commentate on NBA TV, TNT, and ESPN respectively. In 2002, both attempted to trademark the “Fab Five” phrase, which led to some legal back and forth. That same year, Chris Webber and other Michigan players excluding Rose were called to testify in front of a grand jury about their involvement with booster Ed Martin. Webber was charged with perjuring himself, and later admitted he had been receiving loans from Ed Martin since high school. As a result, Michigan forfeited all if its records while Webber was a player including the 1991-1992 and 1992-1993 Final Four victories and banners. He was suspended from playing for eight games and required to dissociate from Michigan until 2013. After the 2011 ESPN Fab Five documentary aired, which highlighted the scandal, Webber first claimed he wasn’t contacted to participate, which Rose, who helped produce the film, vehemently denied. He then declined to participate knowing the rights to the documentary would be maintained by ESPN and not the players. And then the shit hit the fan.

Chris Webber hit with the Jalen subliminals when he stated…A lot of people…after they retire or they’re looking for a job or they want to be relevant…they go back in time and kind of…make sure their importance is really known……when one guy has a million highlights of himself…as if he was the leading scorer and all the stories are embellished, it’s hard for me.”

To which Jalen responded… “One dude traveled then called timeout. One dude lied to grand jury and hasn’t apologized. One dude tried to circumvent the documentary to HBO. One dude ignored multiple requests from everyone involved after agreeing to participate. One dude slandered Ed Martin after all he did for him and his family. One dude is not in contact with the other four (which is all good). One dude has been doing a rebuttal doc for four years. One dude clearly is delusional and still in denial.”

It continued into 2018 when Webber was invited to be the honorary captain at a football game by Jim Harbaugh. Jalen called the move “calculated” to change the thoughts of those who failed to select Webber to the Hall of Fame after bring nominated a few years in a row. Webber responded saying Rose’s comment was “bullshit” and an attempt by Rose to further entrench himself in the media ranks. And in true tot for tat fashion, Jalen responded with, “ I don’t need to talk about him to further my career. I don’t sell out, I am not a media shill, I do not sell my soul in order to talk about sports on television.” Yikes. So the band and the feud played on, even into Juwan Howard’s selection as the head basketball coach. We waited with baited breath on them to reconcile, hug it out, but nope!

Brotherhood

Black brotherhood is essential and necessary. It is imperative that Black men be able and comfortable to share emotions with one another, and not just women. It is common for women to get perspectives from the feminine and masculine, regarding everything from relationships to their hopes, dreams, health, finances, decisions, etc. For many men, outside of their dialogues about women, they don’t feel socially comfortable diving deeper with their male friends, and thus suffer in silence. That’s neither healthy nor culturally sound.

These two, for Detroiters and Wolverines, were the poster children for Black male friends not being afraid to show emotion, motivate each other, and embrace each other. Their rift reminded us of the fallacy of black-on-black crime… their verbal jousting was like Rico shooting Mitch in the apartment vestibule. That shit was rough to watch. We couldn’t believe they were going out like that. And while a good few of us thought Webber was definitely on that bull… we still wanted him to get it together and just let that shit go. We just wanted them to go back to good times. Dewayne & Ron; Kyle & Overton; Fred & Grady; Mitch, Ace & Rico.

You see, Black male friendships go through ups and downs, changes and growth, the good and bad just like anyone else. Despite what you see on TV, all brothas are not against each other, and in fact, for most of the guys I know, they hold these bonds very dear. It’s important for Black men to be free to bd vulnerable with each other, as it’s something many of them are told is soft and not masculine…which is bullshit. It is important for Black men to hug, dap it up, give each other the head nod to greet men they might not know personally bit share a cultural and social affinity with. It is important for Black men to bury the hatchet, put out the fire, retreat to their corners, and get back in each other’s good graces. What we watched today was some real life Black Boy Joy and Black Men Magic. So here’s to Jalen and Chris … now quick somebody do a celebratory jit Tik Tok in Michigan gear. But while I’m waiting, go Juwan…

“Friends
How many of us have them?
Friends
One’s we can depend on
Friends
How many of us have them?
Friends
Before we go any further, lets be
Friends”- , Friends, Whodini

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