A scene that many thought might never come happened Sunday afternoon on ESPN: Two estranged former best friends and teammates reconciling live on television.
There it was: Jalen Rose and Chris Webber chatting for the world to see, after Webber’s election to the Basketball Hall of Fame was announced earlier in the day. Beef squashed, publicly.
“I love you my brother. Congratulations,” Rose said, noting the two played together when they were 13. “You made it to the Hall of Fame. Well deserved.”
“Jalen Anthony Rose, it’s crazy, man,” Webber said. “And thank God for your beautiful, wonderful mother, ’cause you know what she did for me.”
Rose’s mother,Jeanne, died in February from lung cancer at 79 years old.
Webber and Rose grew up as key figures in the Detroit basketball scene: Webber at glitzy Birmingham Detroit Country Day; Rose at Detroit Southwestern.
They then became teammates at Michigan as leading members of the legendary Fab Five, where they helped the Wolverines to the 1992 and 1993 national championship games as freshmen and sophomores.
Both went on to have successful NBA careers, but in the meantime, the relationship chilled with the end of Webber’s relationship with late Michigan booster Ed Martin, with Webber in 2003 eventually pleading guilty to a charge of criminal contempt, downgraded from charges of obstruction of justice and lying to a grand jury. In court, Webber admitted to giving $38,200 to Martin in 1994 as partial repayment for previous loans.
The scandal led to the program forfeiting victories from Webber’s two seasons and removing Final Four banners from Michigan’s Crisler Center. The NCAA banned Webber from associating with Michigan basketball for 10 years.
There was also friction when Webber refused to attend a Fab Five reunion or participate in ESPN’s 2011 “30 for 30” on the Fab Five.
Though both previously said they wanted a reunion, things began to turn around two years ago.
Rose told the Free Press in April 2019 that “the reunion that everybody hopes to see happen. … Don’t be surprised if it happens sooner than people realize.”
One month later, the hiring of fellow Fab Five star Juwan Howard as Michigan’s head coach was the connection Rose and Webber needed to melt the ice.
“It squashes any drama or any beef because we’re not going to bring that to Ann Arbor’s campus with Juwan Howard as our head coach,” Rose said after the hiring. “The one thing that we both know is his success turning around the University of Michigan is first and foremost about him and about the players that he’s going to influence. Then it’s about us being there to support him, not being drama, not being splintered, not giving any indication of dysfunction.”
Webber is producing his own Fab Five TV series with consultation from Howard.
The show, titled “Fab Five,” is based off Webber’s upcoming autobiography, “By God’s Grace.