#2, #4, #84 Chris Webber
Position: Forward-Center ▪ Height: 6-10 ▪ Weight: 245 lbs.
Born: March 1, 1973 (Age 39) in Detroit, Michigan
High School: Detroit Country Day School in Beverly Hills, Michigan
College: University of Michigan
Draft: Orlando Magic, 1st round (1st pick, 1st overall), 1993 NBA Draft
NBA Debut: November 9, 1993
Webber was selected by the Orlando Magic with the first pick of the 1993 NBA Draft, becoming the first sophomore since Magic Johnson to be a #1 overall draft pick.The Magic immediately traded him to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for Anfernee Hardaway and three future first round draft picks.
Webber had an outstanding first year, averaging 17.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game and winning the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. He was instrumental in leading the Warriors back into the playoffs. However, he had a long-standing conflict with his coach, Don Nelson.Nelson wanted to make Webber primarily a post player, despite Webber's superb passing ability and good ball handling skills for someone his size at 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) tall. Webber also disliked playing a substantial amount of time at center, given Nelson's propensity towards smaller, faster line ups. In the 1994 off-season, the Warriors acquired Rony Seikaly so that Webber could play primarily at power forward. However, at the time, the differences between Webber and Nelson were considered to be irreconcilable. Webber exercised a one-year escape clause in his contract, stating he had no intention of returning to the Warriors. With few alternatives, Golden State agreed to a sign and trade deal, sending Webber to the Washington Bullets (now the Wizards) for forward Tom Gugliotta and three first round draft picks.
Webber was traded in his second year to the Washington Bullets, where he was reunited with his college teammate and friend, Juwan Howard. He spent the next three years with the Bullets (later renamed the Washington Wizards), although in the 1995–96 season injuries limited him to only 15 games. Webber rebounded the following year and was named to his first All-Star team in 1997. The same season, Webber led the Bullets into the playoffs for the first time in nine years, but they were swept by the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. By 1998, Webber had established himself as a great power forward, but his time in Washington had also worn out.
On May 14, 1998, Webber was traded to the Sacramento Kings for Mitch Richmond and Otis Thorpe. Webber originally did not want to go to Sacramento, as they were a perennially losing team.
When Webber arrived, the Kings also signed small forward Peja Stojakovic, center Vlade Divac and drafted point guard Jason Williams. In his first year with the Kings (the lockout-shortened 1998–99 season), Webber won the rebounding title averaging a league high 13.0 rebounds per game. Under the guidance of Rick Adelman, the surprising Kings team made the playoffs, almost upsetting the veteran Utah Jazz. In years to come, Webber and the Kings became arguably the most exciting team in the league, and NBA title contenders. He was named to the All-Star team again in 2000 and 2001 while cementing his status as one of the premier power forwards in the NBA. For the 1999–2000 NBA season Webber was the cover athlete on NBA Jam 2000. Webber peaked in the 2000–01 season where he averaged a career-high 27.1 points. He also averaged 11.1 rebounds and was 4th in MVP voting. Webber was an All-NBA player five years in a row as a Sacramento King (1999–2003), making the 1st team in 2001 for the only time in his career. During the 2000 NBA Playoffs, Webber and the Kings were defeated by the Los Angeles Lakers in five games during the first round.
On July 27, 2001, Webber signed a $127 million, seven-year contract with the Kings. In the 2001–02 NBA season, Webber played in 54 games and helped lead the Kings to a Pacific division title and a franchise record 61–21 season. He also made his fourth All-Star team and the All-NBA Second Team. The Kings reached the Western Conference Finals, against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. The Kings led the series 3–2 but eventually lost in 7 games. The 2002 Western Conference Final between the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers was one of the most memorable in league history. The popular (though small-market) Kings led the two-time defending NBA champion Lakers three games to two heading into Game 6 at Staples Center, a game which would prove to be the most infamous of the series. The game, which the Lakers won by four, featured several disputable calls, including a late game foul on Mike Bibby--after he was bleeding from being elbowed in the nose by Kobe Bryant. This game was the epitome of the major issue in the series. Both teams complained about the officiating at different points in the series (the Kings in Game 6 and the Lakers in Games 2 and 5).
The Kings would go on to lose Game 7 of the series at home. Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy filed in court papers in 2008 said that Game 6 was fixed by the NBA. NBA Commissioner David Stern denied Donaghy's allegations. Lawrence Pedowitz, who led a review of the league's officiating following the outbreak of the scandal, concluded that while Game 6 was poorly officiated, no concrete evidence existed of it having been fixed.
The next season, Webber had another superb year, averaging 23 points and 11 rebounds per game. He was cited as a possible MVP candidate, and made his fifth consecutive All-Star team. In a bad sign of what was to come, Webber missed the All Star game with an injured knee. Nevertheless, he returned and the Kings were among the favorites to win the NBA Championship.
In the second game of the 2003 Western Conference Semifinals against the Dallas Mavericks, Webber suffered a career-threatening knee injury while running down the lane untouched that forced him to miss nearly a year of action. After microfracture surgery, he returned for the final 23 games of the 2003–04 season, but his athleticism, agility, and mobility were never the same. Because of this, the injury turned out to be the turning point in Webber's career in terms of statistics and he was traded a few months later.
In February 2005, Webber, along with Michael Bradley and Matt Barnes, were traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for power forward Kenny Thomas, forward/center Brian Skinner, and former King Corliss Williamson. Webber took some time to fit in with the 76ers offense, where he was the second scoring option, behind Allen Iverson. He eventually helped catapult the Sixers to a berth in the 2005 playoffs, where the Sixers lost to the Detroit Pistons. However, they did not reach the playoffs in 2006, despite Webber putting up a resurgent 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. Because of the microfracture surgery on his knee, Webber lost his lateral quickness and jumping ability. While he still possessed offensive skills, he was seen as a defensive liability and was usually benched for the 4th quarters. This caused Webber to reportedly call for a trade.
On Tuesday, April 18, 2006, Webber and Iverson were fined for not showing up at the Philadelphia 76ers final home game of the season, which was Fan Appreciation Night, although both of them were injured and not expected to play. The following day they both apologized for being absent.
During the 2006–07 season Webber only played 18 of 35 games for the Sixers leading the media to question his motivation. On January 11, 2007 Sixers GM Billy King announced that the Sixers and Webber had agreed to a reported $25 million contract buyout on the remaining two years left on his contract, in effect paying him not to play. Later that day, the Sixers waived Webber, making him a free agent.
On January 16, 2007, Webber signed with the Detroit Pistons. He has stated throughout his career that he always wanted to play for his hometown team. His usual number 4 had been retired in honor of Joe Dumars, so Webber donned the number 84, because his nephew had a dream of him making a buzzer beater with that number on. The Pistons were a much improved basketball team after Webber's acquisition, improving their record in the Eastern Conference and solidifying the first seed in the East. However, the Eastern Conference favorites failed to advance to the finals after losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals, leaving Webber short of an NBA Finals appearance yet again. Indeed, Webber performed well in the 2007 NBA Playoffs despite receiving limited minutes. Webber still managed to average 10 points and 6 rebounds per game in the playoffs and shot an impressive 52.4% from the field. His efforts were highlighted by a game 5 performance in the Eastern Conference Finals in which Webber scored 20 points (including 5 points in the double overtime period) on 9 of 13 shooting and grabbed 7 boards. Nevertheless, Detroit still lost what turned out to be the key game in the series in double overtime and Webber ended up averaging a career low 11.2 PPG in his run with the Pistons. During the off season, Detroit did not resign Webber. Despite receiving lucrative proposals from teams in Europe, he was in free agency at the beginning of the regular season.
On January 29, 2008, the Golden State Warriors signed Webber for the rest of the season. He played in only nine games for the Warriors, averaging 3.9 points and 3.6 rebounds in 14 minutes per game.
On March 25, 2008, Webber officially retired from basketball due to persistent problems with his surgically repaired knee and was waived by the Warriors.On March 27, 2008, Webber made his first appearance on television on Inside the NBA on TNT, alongside Charles Barkley and host Ernie Johnson. On April 25, 2008, TNT offered Webber a job to be a commentator for the post season.
Webber averaged 20.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists for his career (one of only six players to do so). The Golden State Warriors did not make the playoffs during the first 12 years after they traded Webber. In 1997, he led Washington to their first playoff appearance since 1989. They would not reach the playoffs again until 2005, seven years after trading Webber. Prior to Webber's arrival in 1998, the Kings made the playoffs only twice (1985 and 1996) since they moved to Sacramento from Kansas City in 1985.
The Sacramento Kings retired Webber's number 4 jersey on February 6, 2009 when the Kings hosted the Utah Jazz.
Since retiring from the NBA, Webber has become an analyst on NBA TV's NBA Gametime Live. He does the Tuesday Fan Night alongside Ernie Johnson and Kevin McHale. He also served as an occasional guest analyst on TNT's Inside the NBA during the 2008–09 season. During Charles Barkley's leave of absence, Webber substituted for him along with other guests such as Gary Payton and Mike Fratello. Webber has also expressed interests in eventually becoming a GM and owner.
Is Webber a HOFer?