Former NBA player and one of the most underrated power forwards in recent NBA history, Chris Webber, made a guest appearance on the Knuckleheads podcast. One of the things he talked about with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles was his transition to the NBA from college; when there was an opportunity for a brief moment, he would play alongside Shaquille O’Neal on the Orlando Magic squad. On draft night in 1993, the Magic selected Webber as the first pick but would soon trade him to Golden State Warriors in exchange for Penny Hardaway.
Webber wanted to play with Shaq because he thought there would be good synergy between them, but the Magic organization got Penny because of Shaq’s request.
All I wanted to do is play my position. I told him back then that I’m gonna to average a triple-double. I said, they gonna give it to me at the free-throw line, I’m gonna drive and throw that b***h up each time. What can they do? He already did that with Grant.Chris Webber, via Knuckleheads Podcast
The connection between Penny and Shaq started at the shooting of the movie ‘Blue Chips,’ and during those few weeks, they played basketball every day on the set. They both soon realized they are an excellent match for each other, and Shaq immediately knew Penny is the right guy to run the Magic’s offense. Webber said he still feels sorry because he didn’t play with Shaq but understands there were higher powers in place that prevented that from happening.
Shaq told me, and we talk about this all the time, and Shaq was like, ‘Man, Penny was in there going off, man. He was like, I played with Penny for two weeks while we did the movie, you know. So he was like, I want to play with Penny, and I got it. The second the trade had happened, I got it, and I didn’t even care, I was happy to go to the west coast and be with Mullin, Tim Hardaway. So it was all love. But yeah, I wanted to play with the big men. I did, I wanted to play with the big men.
Their careers went in totally different directions in terms of success. Unfortunately, Webber never won a championship despite being incredibly close during the Sacramento Kings and the Lakers’ rivalry in the early ’00s. They were both the best players on their teams, and who would’ve known how the NBA landscape would look like if the Magic drafted Webber instead of Hardaway. There is no question; their impact would be significant on the Magic franchise, maybe even on the same level as when Shaq and Penny played together.