In an interview published by the Sacramento Bee Thursday, former Michigan basketball star Chris Webber further refuted the allegation that he accepted $280,000 from former booster Ed Martin. Martin was indicted March 21 by federal courts for loaning a total of $616,000 to Webber, Maurice Taylor, Robert Traylor and Louis Bullock in an effort to launder money from his illegal gambling enterprise in metro Detroit auto plants.
Webber made it clear that he took money from Martin on numerous occasions but was adamant in the interview that the amount was nowhere near $280,000.
“I was definitely asking (him) for money or to help me get gym shoes here and there, in high school when you want to look good and things like that, but that was really the extent of it,” he said. “As far as $200,000, that’s crazy numbers.”
Webber remembered Martin as “just a nice guy,” who would “let you come over to his house and cut his grass and give you $20.” Martin was thoroughly involved in the Detroit basketball community. Webber saw him at most of his games and felt Martin was someone he could count on in times of need.
“He would call himself our godfather, you know, the players, and if it was a problem or something – you know, my father didn’t have the money – I’d go get $50 from him,” Webber said. “He was kind of what I said, a godfather, someone you thought you could trust, somebody who was older than you and could keep you in a safe environment.”
Webber also elaborated on his living conditions during his two years at Michigan in an effort to show that he was living everything but the high life while in Ann Arbor.
“Man, come on. I’d have bought a Porsche,” he said. “I was driving my dad’s (Chevrolet) Corsica, and the passenger door didn’t open, and the driver’s seat was broke. … If anybody looks at the (game) program at Michigan, we were wearing the same suits. I’m wearing one suit on this page, and Juwan (Howard) is wearing another. On the next page, I’m wearing Juwan’s suit, and he’s wearing my suit.”
Webber was recruited heavily by current Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, who was an assistant when Webber decided to come to Michigan. Webber feels that even Izzo would admit that the allegations are false. “Tom Izzo knows how I got to Michigan,” Webber said. “He knows if he (had been) the coach at Michigan State (at the time), I would have gone to Michigan State. If anyone were to ask him, he would tell you. He cried when he didn’t get me in, and I cried when I didn’t go there.”
With all of this drama unfolding during the season, Webber has made a concerted effort to concentrate on winning an NBA Championship and has not “let this one get me mad.”
“Yeah, I’m the poster boy,” Webber said. “But it’s cool. It’s cool. Somebody’s been wanting to attach something negative to me.”