Chris Webber was the centerpiece of one of the most iconic college basketball liners ever.
He was a No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft and a five-time All-Star who played 15 seasons in the league.
Since then, he has carved out a career for himself as an NBA analyst and color commentator.
But the mention of his name among basketball fans immediately evokes a word above all.
” Free time. “
27 years ago today, Webber made one of the most infamous mistakes in sports history, his last act as a member of the Fab Five who won a national championship for North Carolina.
The emergence of the Fab Five
The Fab Five remained intact for their second campaign after taking on basketball as a freshman.
The most advertised recruiting class in college basketball history lived up to the hype in 1992. Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson led Michigan to a record 25- 9 and became the first starting line-up for any beginner to start in a national championship match.
There, the magic broke out as Christian Laettner’s Duke Blue Devils defeated the Wolverines for a second consecutive national title.
But when the five starters returned for the 1992-93 season, Michigan took over as the power of college basketball. The Wolverines entered the season as the country’s first team. They returned not only with immense talent, but the same swagger who established the style of basketball style for a generation.
The Fab Five marked the end of the era of short basketball. Loose jerseys and knee-length shorts from Michigan have become the norm not only in college basketball, but also in the NBA and on playgrounds across the country. The black socks and black shoes that marked their embrace of immodest basketball bad guys remained theirs.
Collision course with North Carolina
Michigan finished second in the Big Ten this season against Calbert Chaney’s Indiana Hoosiers. But their 26-4 regular season record was enough to win a No. 1 seed alongside the traditional powers of Indiana, Kentucky and North Carolina.
The Wolverines would move to New Orleans for the Final Four, where they beat the Kentucky Wildcats of Jamal Mashburn in overtime to secure a spot in the national title match against North Carolina.
The Tar Heels started their own exceptional season, entering the tournament as CCA regular season champions with a 28-4 record. It was a team of veterans anchored by four members of the upper class in the starting line-up, led by senior forward George Lynch and junior center Eric Montross.
Michigan won a thriller 79-78 against North Carolina in December, and now faced ACC blue blood for the national title for the second consecutive season. “Data-reactid =” 53 “> Michigan won a thriller 79-78 over North Carolina in December, and was now facing an ACC-blood-blue for the national title for the second consecutive season.
Michigan opened a 10-point lead in the first half which quickly evaporated as North Carolina came in at half-time with a 42-36 advantage. The Tar Heels relied on Lynch (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Montross (16 points, five rebounds) as well as second year shooter Donald Williams, who had the game of his life with 25 points while hitting 5 points on 7 to 3 points. attempts.
Webber, as he so often was, was the focal point of the Michigan offense. He led the Wolverines with 23 points and 11 rebounds and found the ball in his hands in the final critical seconds of the Superdome.
UNC junior striker Pat Sullivan went to the touchline for a pair of free throws with North Carolina leading 72-71 and 20 seconds to go after a fault by the reserve guard and future manager Los Angeles Lakers general Rob Pelinka.
Sullivan was the first to sink. He missed the second. Webber rebounded the miss with Michigan behind by two and a chance of a tie or lead. He immediately didn’t know what to do.
Webber faced the front yard, apparently looking for someone to pass by. He then began calling a time-out before deciding to advance the ball himself.
He committed a travel violation before making his first dribble. The only person in the building who did not see the violation appeared to Jim Stupin, the rear zone official who refused to whistle the violation. A call would have prevented the next seven seconds of basketball history.
Webber dribbled the ball over half the field and was immediately sidelined next to the Michigan bench by Lynch and guard UNC Derrick Phelps.
Webber panicked. He reported a timeout and turned to the official on the sidelines, who whistled. The whistle did not, however, signal a timeout. It was for a technical fault.
Michigan has no time out, and Webber’s signal for one resulted in a pair of free throws and possession for North Carolina with 11 seconds remaining.
Williams sank the two technical free throws and two more on a personal foul that followed to give the UNC the final margin of 77-71 which would secure Head Coach Dean Smith’s second national championship at Chapel Hill.
Rose: We knew we were out of time
everyone on the ground knew there was no more time out after discussing it in a huddle. “Data-reactid =” 92 “> Weber has been reluctant to discuss the moment since, even decades later. Rose told ESPN in 2017 that everyone in the field knew there was no more time out after discussing it in a group.
The game was immediately engraved in the tradition of college basketball. Although it is remembered to have lost the Michigan championship, the fact that the UNC had a two-point lead and Webber stuck in the corner is often lost in the discussion.
The Wolverines still had a lot of work to do, even if it wasn’t for Webber’s blunder. But he made the mistake. Carolina hung a banner. Webber left Michigan for the NBA without a championship.
The rest of the Fab Five came back to win third place at the NCAA tournament in 1994, where they lost to possible Arkansas Elite Eight champion.
Even after an exceptional career, time out remains the hallmark of Webber.