Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Fab Five Changed My Life

When I heard about Chris Webber's retirement yesterday, I was surprised at how significant it was to me. I had never thought about it before, but Chris Webber really did change my life.

As a Christian, I know that may sound a little ridiculous. If you'll bear with me, I'll try to explain myself.

I was a freshman in high school when Webber became a member of the best college basketball recruiting class ever - a group that became known as the Fab Five at the University of Michigan. Webber was the star of the group but the other players - Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson - were also great. Webber, Rose and Howard all went on to great NBA careers and Howard is still playing at age 35.

As a freshman in high school who was just figuring out that basketball was my favorite sport, watching the Fab Five literally changed my life. I saw their baggy shorts, their bald heads, their black socks and shoes, their high-flying dunks, their alley-oop passes, their blocked shots, their exuberance and swagger and I wanted to be like them. At age 15, I believed I could be like them.

Basketball became the main focus of all my sports efforts. I stopped playing baseball after my freshman year and continued playing golf, but not with much concentration or effort. I worked on my jump shot in my driveway and at my church gym every time I could. I determined to be able to dunk by the time I was a senior in high school. I bought several pairs of baggy shorts and black basketball shoes and at least one pair of black socks.

The reason this was a big change in my life is because up to that point baseball was my main hobby. I had played baseball since I was 7 or 8. I was just settling into the catcher position and learning how to be the leader on the field, perfecting my throw down to second base, calling pitches and becoming a very consistent hitter. Baseball was always the sport I was the most successful in. I was always on the All-Star teams, always in the starting lineup, usually at the top of the batting order.

When basketball became my focus, it didn't take long for me to drop baseball. I was maybe a little burnt out on baseball, but I really think I lost the love for the game.

Now, the reason I believe this whole process changed my life is because who knows what could have happened if I had stuck with baseball? Maybe I could have been good enough to play in college. Maybe I wouldn't have chosen to attend Bethel College to do that and would never have had all the life-changing experiences I had while at Bethel - including meeting my wife and most of my best friends.

Were there other factors that played into all the major decisions that led me to where I am today? Of course, but I honestly believe Chris Webber and the rest of the Fab Five played a part in changing my life - in a good way!

Here's a great article on Chris Webber and here's a couple videos to watch if you don't remember the Fab Five or if you just want to refresh your memory:

1 comment:

Rachel said...

aaahhh ... the Fab Five ... my love of basketball was ignited with them, too. they made me into the huge UofM fan that I was. Can't play a lick of basketball with any skill, but I still exercise regularly in the UofM bball shorts I purchased at the height of my fan-dom.