Jalen Rose talks complex friendship with Sacramento Kings great Chris Webber
Jalen Rose has known Chris Webber for more than half his life. The two grew up together then went onto revolutionize the college game together as members of the Michigan Fab 5. Rose, now a studio analyst for ESPN’s NBA Countdown show, joined Bill Simmons on his podcast “The B.S. Report” last week and shared some insight on the former Sacramento Kings’ great.
Rose on meeting Webber for the first time when both were 12-years-old:
I remember Chris showing up at the gym, tight shorts, big shoes, dirty socks. We were actually laughing and joking when we first saw him play. I remember a time, we saw this guy get a rebound – and this is eighth grade, this is when players say “I can dunk, I can dunk”, and then everybody moves out of the way, and then you try to get your steps right and go dunk, and you make it one out of 10 times. This guy got a rebound, did ball-handling moves – between the legs, behind the back – went coast-to-coast and dunked – and we were like fans after that. Like oh my god! What do we gotta do make this guy part of our team? And ever since, we were friends and we pushed one another for greatness and I was fortunate enough to have that.
Simmons and Rose both agreed Webber could have been considered the greatest power forward of all time. Rose made a point that Webber was able to reach some of his potential with the Kings’ teams of the 2000s:
And also they were a team that started to open up the paint with the Euro style. You have Vlade (Divac) on the team. You eventually have Peja Stojakovic on the team. (They) start playing high post, cutting, scissor cuts, getting a lot of players different shots in different positions. It wasn’t a traditional, throw-it-down-low, post-up iso situation and that helped enable his skill-set as well. Rick Adelman did a very good job, now with the Minnesota Timberwolves instituting that style of play.
Rose and Webber don’t talk that much these days. The 13-year NBA veteran has a few theories on why they’ve grown apart, including the contrasting roles they had on that Michigan team:
I also think that there was a piece that he was the best player, he was the superstar of the team, he was the No. 1 pick of the draft, but I was the leader of the team. So there’s also a dynamic with that, that I’m pretty sure he got pretty tired of people saying, “Well Jalen’s the leader. You’re getting your cred from Jalen.”
I recommend giving this a listen. Like Webber, Rose has improved astronomically as an analyst in recent years and he’s pretty candid in this podcast about all things NBA.