Tonight is not the night for Webber to make an appearance at Georgia Dome

It's a love-hate thing.

I love the concept, I hate the reality.

As a basketball fan with no ties to the University of Michigan apart from the nine years I've spent watching and covering the team, I love how it would look to see Jalen Rose, Ray Jackson, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and yes, Chris Webber, sitting together in the stands of the Georgia Dome tonight.

A reunion of the Fab Five would become a powerful moment in Michigan sports history. Years of scandal, probation and revocation, largely fueled by Webber, have complicated the group's legacy. Through it all, the bond between them has remained strong.

We can all imagine how powerful it would look on television - the slow pan from left to right as Jim Nantz colorfully reflects on the Fab Five's back-to-back trips to the Final Four in 1992 and 1993, the painful losses in the championship games and the infamous timeout called by Webber in the '93 final.

Their attendance would be a statement about their love of Michigan and unwavering support for this year's team.

But in reality, an appearance by Webber would steal a large portion of the spotlight from the young men John Beilein has led to the doorstep of a national championship.

Earlier this week, Webber went more public in support of Michigan than we've seen in years, when he published a tweet saying, "It's Your Time Now," attaching a picture of Tim Hardaway, Jr., Trey Burke and Glenn Robinson III.

Webber's the one that seems to get it.

If Webber could ease into the Georgia Dome without fanfare, inconspicuously slide into a row of seats and watch the game with his Fab Five friends and NOT be swarmed by cameras, media and fans, I'd be into it.

If he could sneak into the locker room with Rose, King, Jackson and Howard before the game and inspire the Wolverines to finish what they weren't able to finish 20 years ago, to right the wrong, it would send chills down my spine.

Under those circumstances, I'd bet Webber would be into it as well.

Those aren't the circumstances. 

For one, Webber still can't officially interact with the University of Michigan, so a trip to the locker room could never happen. Secondly, his appearance tonight would become a circus, an enormously distracting sidebar on a night when a focused group of players is facing its greatest challenge of the season.

Rightly or wrongly, his public return to the Michigan community would be perceived as cocky, bold and brash - a "look at me" moment - when many people feel the reconciliation should be quiet, contrite and humble.

Would I love to see it? Absolutely. Most basketball fans would.

Is it the right thing to do with 75,000 in the stands and millions of people watching on television?  No.

Webber, to this point of the Final Four, has it right.  Stay away and let the Wolverines of 2013 shine.  They've earned that right.

 

 

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