Chris Webber was one of those rare college players who understood the possibility of greatness. As a member of the Fab Five, the legendary University of Michigan freshman class, he showed us that the ability to play such a sport at the highest level demands not only poise in the face of impossible obstacles but grace in the face of well-publicized mistakes.
The Fab Five – Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson – forever changed the game of basketball. The gamble of wearing bald heads, baggy shorts and black socks, only added to the exhilaration and urgency of their mutual adventure. It was all for a cause. The one chance in life for recognized greatness. The opportunity to tell their grandkids about the accomplishments of their youth. Webber took risks, he gave you brashness and bravado – he gave you Detroit.
He made a career of inciting both controversy and amazement, from a recruiting scandal to his infamous time-out-that-wasn’t at Michigan in the 1993 NCAA championship game to an NBA career that was equal parts brilliance and exasperation. It’s only fitting that he now wants to be an NBA owner.
Webber made an estimated $178,230,697 during his 15-year career, and by all accounts has been very smart with his money. As part of The Webber Group, which must have deep pockets, he informed the league office of its wish to purchase majority interest in the Atlanta Hawks, its announcing its intentions Thursday on Twitter. The Hawks became available when their majority owner Bruce Levenson sent an email two years ago accusing the team’s fan base of being “too Black,” amongst other racially insensitive remarks, hypothesizing that many of suburban Atlanta’s white fans would not attend Hawks games because of the team’s largely African-American fan base.
Given the Donald Sterling fiasco, the league was facing a serious public relations nightmare. Consequently, Levison agreed to sell his majority share of the team. Then, reports emerged that general manager Danny Ferry had disparaged then-free agent Luol Deng on a conference call with team owners this past summer, saying Deng was two-faced because he “has a little African in him.” Ferry has since taken an indefinite leave of absence.
Black Men Can Count: The NBA Needs More Black Owners was originally published on blackamericaweb.com