FLASHBACK: Chris Webber dunk really burns announcer up inside

With this afternoon’s Kansas-New Mexico St. game (12:15, CBS) marking the college analyst debut of Chris Webber, we thought there’d be no better time to take a look back at how far we’ve come on the commentary front.

Michigan basketball didn’t exactly hold a sterling reputation back in 1993 when they took on North Carolina in the NCAA National Championship game. Polarizing may be an apt way to describe Michigan’s starting unit, a collection of five sophomores appearing in their second consecutive championship contest.

What caught the ire of onlookers? It’s almost comical looking back now. Shorts that came close to touching one’s knees, socks that weren’t white, the audacity to shave one’s head, a possible tattoo here or there, and a heavy smattering of overconfidence and bravado. Or to put it another way: a modern day basketball player.

But back then? Oh boy, these fellows had to watch their step. And when Webber broke into the open floor against UNC and dared to hang onto the rim for nearly one second, he caught the wrath of CBS:

“It’ll be the number one thing I think we’ll see enforced next year in college basketball.”

Wait, what?

Apparently the college game had reached a mythical apex in ’93, where the only thing left to rule upon and enforce was whether a player grabbed the basketball hoop on a breakaway dunk. That disdain though…

“That should have been a technical foul. I do not understand that call.”

The blood is boiling.

Granted, we’ll meet the commentary team halfway here. 1993 was right on the precipice of the basketball hoop revolution. With a basket’s primary support coming with two metal beams from the side, as opposed to the modern tendency to directly support the rim from the back, some of those buckets were more subject to shatter and flat out rupture.

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So with that in mind, and the suggestion that hanging on the rim was somehow a form of taunting… the hate still seems strong.

Of course, the nation would get the last laugh following Webber’s ill-advised time-out (insider’s take: he traveled anyway, so he was on borrowed time to begin with). But it was his open floor above the rim endeavor that may best represent that era’s us-against-the-world ethos facing Michigan’s Fab Five.

Somehow, when a Jayhawk inevitably rips the rim for a big time crush this afternoon, we don’t see Webber offering the same response we saw in ’93. And for that, we’re thankful.

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