Chris Webber: So Close Yet So Far

Chris Webber: So Close Yet So Far

Chris Webber attended Detroit Country Day School in Beverly Hills, Michigan. In his senior year in high school, Webber scored on average 29.4 points and had 13 rebounds per game. In that year, he was honored with the Mr. Basketball Award of the State of Michigan and voted National High School Player of the Year. During his time at Country Day High School, he helped them to get three titles. In November 2005, his #44 high school jersey was retired. Webber attended the University of Michigan where he played for the Michigan Wolverines. There he was known together with Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson as the Fab-Five. The Wolverines reached with the Fab-Five the finals of the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship in 1992 and 1993 but lost in both years. In the 1993 finals, Webber made a mistake:  with 11 seconds on the clock, he requested a time-out, even though Michigan had already used up all of their time-outs. Thus, a technical foul was imposed on the Wolverines, and they lost the game with 77-71.

At the NBA Draft in 1993, the Orlando chose Magic Webber as their first pick of the draft. Orlando, however, traded Webber for Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway and three future draft picks to the Golden State Warriors. In his first season, Webber scored in 76 games on average 17.5 points and 9.1 rebounds. At the end of the season, he was named Rookie of the Year. He also reached the playoffs with the Warriors, where they lost in the first round against the Phoenix Suns.

In the summer of 1994, Webber and coach Don Nelson had a breakdown in their relationship. Webber, therefore, requested a trade to another team. Golden State traded him to the Washington Bullets in exchange for Tom Gugliotta and 3 future picks. Webber played again together with Juwan Howard. After the playoffs could not be reached in his first two seasons at the Bullets, the Bullets reached the playoffs for the first time in eight years in the 1996/97 season. Webber scored on average 20.1 points and added 10.3 rebounds, and was also selected for the first time to the All-Star Game. Nevertheless, the Bullets lost in the first round of the playoffs against the Chicago Bulls led by Michael Jordan. In his final season in Washington, Webber scored 21.9 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. The Wizards missed the playoffs that season.

In 1998 Webber was traded to the Sacramento. It was love at first sight – not just with Tyra Banks. Peja Stojakovic, Jason “White Chocolate” Williams, and C-Webb – you add a Vlade Divac and Mike Bibby in the following years and get? A pretty horny troupe. 61 victories. 

After the Lakers were still a number too big in the previous year, 2002 came along and the Conference Finals to meet the defending champion – Kobe and Shaq.

Opposite them stood a hungry Kings collective, led by Webber. In Sacramento, he had become the All-Star again, and his game lifted to a new level. Even smoother his faceup moves in the post, which was almost art now. Even more precise his ingenious passes from the Double Team. Optionally also as behind the back or over the head away. It was replayed on every streetball court in the country: Webber in the post office, pass to Stojakovic, Pejaa for threeee

So close yet so far

When the Kings took the lead in 3-2, the dream seemed to be true, the big Lakers shook. But they did not fall. In one of many journalists called the worst-run game in NBA history, Game 6, Lakers equalized and also took the playoffs in Sac-Town. What remained were shocked and frustrated players, fans and journalists, all over the world.

The Kings were not meant to win Game 6,” wrote Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News: “It had nothing to do with either the Lakers or the Kings, but with the way the referees have whistled the game.

In the fourth quarter alone, the Lakers were awarded 27 free throws – the Kings only 9. The foul against Bibby after Kobe’s elbow including the bloody nose of the Kings playmaker in the final seconds of the game is still a bad example in any instructional video.

Former referee Tim Donaghy, who had been imprisoned after the 2007 betting scandal, stated in his confession that the game had been rigged as the League wanted to force a seventh game. Former Commissioner David Stern spoke out vehemently against the allegations – a subsequent investigation did not provide evidence for either side.

In retrospect, that was no longer important to the Kings and Webber. They had lost and instead of them Kobe and Shaq swept across the overstretched New Jersey Nets in the finals. Threepeat for the Lakers instead of ending the 51-year drought for the Kings.

With the Kings, Webber enjoyed the best seasons in his career – he was named All-Star four times, two-time All-NBA Second Team, and one-time All-NBA Third Team.

The fans loved Chris Webber – actually, the whole basketball world loved Chris Webber, and Chris Webber loves the basketball world: “If someone told me before my career what I have to go through and if I had to sell my soul to play in the NBA, I would have done it anyway.