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College Basketball

In 1993, Bill Clinton wrote a letter to Chris Webber about his timeout gaffe (pic)


On March 7, 1993, President William Jefferson Clinton put an actual pen to actual paper — imagine that, in this day and age — to write a friendly letter to then Michigan Wolverines star Chris Webber in the hopes that it would cheer up the Fab Five member when the young man was probably feeling as low as he ever felt in his fledgling, big-time basketball career.

As you may recall, during the 1993 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, Webber had a mental gaffe for the ages. With the Wolverines down 73-71 to the North Carolina Tar Heels with 11 seconds remaining, Webber turned to a referee and called a timeout. Unfortunately, Michigan had no timeouts remaining, resulting in an assessment of a technical foul on the Wolverines and for all intents and purposes, effectively ending any hopes of Michigan pulling out a victory and a national championship.

But Slick Willie knew C-Webb probably was reeling as a result of his mistake, so Clinton wrote him a nice note to express his deepest sympathies.

For those of you who are too young to remember it and for those of you who would enjoy watching it again simply for the schadenfreude of it all, here’s Webber’s infamous error:

Ouch. It remains awkward to watch. Courtesy of Grantland, below is President Clinton’s consoling letter:


The transcription of the letter:

I have been thinking of you a lot since I sat glued to the TV during the championship game. I know that there may be nothing I or anyone else can say to ease the pain and disappointment of what happened. Still, for whatever it’s worth, you, and your team, were terrific. And part of playing for high stakes under great pressure is the constant risk of mental error. I know. I have lost two political races and made countless mistakes over the last twenty years. What matters is the intensity, integrity, and courage you bring to the effort. That is certainly what you have done. You can always regret what occurred but don’t let it get you down or take away the satisfaction of what you have accomplished. You have a great future. Hang in there.
Sincerely, Bill Clinton

Awesome. No matter how Webber felt about what happened on that court, it had to make him feel a lot better knowing the leader of the free world took the time to let the young man know that the Commander-in-Chief was feeling his pain.