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One of my all-time favorite basketball players is set to announce his retirement today. Chris Webber revolutionized the game, and if you don’t think so watch an ESPN Classic game in the 80’s or earlier and check out the shorts, socks, shoes, and hair cuts. Yes, it’s safe to say C-Webb, along with the greatest freshmen class in college basketball history with Jalen Rose, Juwon Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson, changed the game. But more than just looks and trends Webber became one of the very best players the last generation.
Webber played the majority of his career in the Western Conference that was just a breeding ground for the best power forwards in basketball. Six of his first ten years (before the knee injury) he played in the West, as a rookie with Golden State and then most successfully with the Sacramento Kings. Night in and night out he put up monster numbers while facing off against the likes of Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace, Dirk Nowitzki, Elton Brand, and on and on. Webber was right at the top of that list with those current and future Hall of Famers. This poses the question.
Is Chris Webber a Hall of Famer?
I am a huge stat guy. Maybe I take them into account more than I should, but some numbers simply can’t be ignored. You’ve all seen this before by now as any article about Webber is mentioning it. He is one of just 6 players in NBA history to average 20 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists, along with Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Billy Cunningham, Larry Bird, (all in the Hall of Fame), and current star Kevin Garnett.
Career averages: 20.7 pts., 9.8 reb., 4.2 asts.
How incredible is that? Look at the company he’s sharing. Only 4 players have finished their careers with those kinds of numbers. Does it get a whole lot more exclusive than that? If you weren’t sure whether C-Webb should be in Springfield, those numbers are pretty convincing. Some would argue about team success, and how truly great players make everyone else around them that much better. Webber turned around 3 franchises in a row. Golden State had 34 wins the year before trading on draft day for Webber, then had 50 in his rookie year, returning to the playoffs. In fact his rookie year, 93-94 was the last time the team hit the 50 win plateau. The Washington Bullets were in the mist of a long playoff drought, but in his 3 rd season with the team (96-97) he led the team in points and rebounds (over 20 & 10) and back to the post season for the first time since 1987-1988. Then perhaps his greatest turn around was with the Sacramento Kings.
The Kings had made the playoffs once from 86-87 to 97-98. Immediately the deal to send Mitch Richmond and Otis Thorpe to Washington for Webber paid dividends. The team made the playoffs in the West each and every year he was in the state capitol. Although he never advanced to the NBA Finals he did lead the Kings to a franchise record 61 wins in 2001-2002 where they lost in 7 to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers squad. The Kings had a 3-2 lead in the series just to see it slip away. I’ll give them the title had they gotten by LA seeing as how the Lakers walked past the Nets in a clean sweep. That was the closest Webber ever got to winning the championship in the NBA.
Getting close to winning a title in college, however, takes on a while new meaning. Obviously Webber is famous for calling time out his sophomore year against Eric Montross (former Celtics 1 st round pick) when they didn’t have any left in the NCAA Championship game. Michigan was down 73-71 at the time, in fact he traveled first and there was no call, then he called the time out they did not have. Clearly a mistake, but there is no guarantee they win the game if he does not take the TO. It’s a misnomer that the Wolverines cut the nets down if C-Webb knows how many fulls and 30s they have left, they were still down 2. I’m not making excuses for him, that’s just a fact.
Despite not winning a ring, I say Chris Webber has done enough to make the Hall of Fame. Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, John Stockton all played their entire careers without winning a title. It’s not a prerequisite for making the Hall. Take a look at some of the accomplishments by Webber in his storied basketball career, and tell me what you think.
Highlights/ Honors/ Awards:
National High School Player of the Year
1 st Team All American 1993
Led Michigan to back-to-back National Championship Games
NCAA All Tournament 1 st Team 1992, 1993
Averaged a double-double both years at Michigan
1 st overall pick in 1993 draft
NBA Rookie of the Year 1993-1994
All-Rookie Team 1993-1994
15 seasons in the league
10 seasons averaging 20+ points per game
5 time NBA All-Star
All-NBA 1 st Team (2000-2001)
All-NBA 2 nd Team (98-99, 01-02, 02-03)
All-NBA 3 rd Team (1999-2000)
Top 10 in MVP vote 5 times
Led NBA in Rebounds per game (1998-1999)
Dated Tyra Banks
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