In 1993, a draft-day trade changed the landscape of the NBA. The Orlando Magic traded their first-round overall pick for the Golden State Warriors’ 3rd overall pick and additional draft assets. The men involved; Chris Webber and Anfernee Hardaway -- a big man who was a proven star and winner in college for a flashy, Magic Johnson-like point guard. After nearly three decades, let’s see who won the swap deal.
Shaq and Webber would have been scary
The Orlando Magic had the lowest lottery odds in 1993 after they barely missed the Playoffs, finishing 9th in the East. Surprisingly, the team won the No.1 pick, meaning they would select first two years in a row -- they got Shaq the previous year. Everyone was sure they would select Chris Webber. At that time, big men were still considered a luxury, and having Shaq and Webber on one team were true riches a franchise could only dream of.
Having Penny was hard to turn down
However, in an unexpected trade, Golden State Warriors Coach Don Nelson proposed a swap with the 3rd pick and future first-rounders to the Magic. The 3rd pick happened to be Anfernee Hardaway. The Magic obliged, and fans went wild because it was perceived Webber was the more logical and low-risk choice. Not only was Penny Hardaway still a nobody at that time, but giving away a first overall pick sounded like an alien concept: it had not been done before.
Unknown to many, it was Shaq who vouched for Penny. The two met at the set of Blue Chips, and that’s when The Diesel got to know his future point guard. Hardaway was invited for a tryout with the team, and he reportedly impressed Magic general manager Pat Williams so much that he eventually labeled Penny as the next Magic Johnson.
Who won the first overall pick draft-day trade?
Unfortunately, neither player reached the level they were projected to reach. Webber and Penny were stars in the league in their own right, but experts believed they could have achieved more if not for injuries and team changes that sidetracked their ascent to superstar level. Penny and Shaq delighted fans with their game highlights, but the partnership was short-lived. In 1996, Shaq bolted to the Los Angeles Lakers, a surprise move that he regrets to this day.
Had he stayed longer in Orlando, Shaq could have created bigger things with Penny. The year before Shaq went to the Lakers, Orlando went to the Finals but lost 4-0 to the Houston Rockets. Fans assumed that the team would regroup and try again next year, but the roster imploded after Shaq left. All Magic should have done was offer Shaq more money, but the team dropped the ball big time.
On the other hand, Webber’s stint with the Warriors was cut short. He was shipped to the Washington Bullets after just one season. In his rookie year, C-Webb averaged 17 points. He would again play for Golden State after more than a decade in the 2007-2008 season. The last stop of his storied career was a homecoming for Webber, but he could only put up almost 4 points per game as a 34-year-old.
Chris played for other teams in his career, but he would be best remembered as part of the Sacramento Kings, where he averaged 23.5 points in seven seasons. Unfortunately, the Kings never reached the Finals because they went up against the Lakers era led by Kobe Bryant and O’Neal. Sacramento fans are left to wonder what could have been because the lineup of C-Webb, Mike Bibby, Vlade Divac, and Peja Stojakovic was formidable and fun to watch.
At a glance, you could say Orlando won the trade as Penny and Shaq went to the Finals, and they got three first-round picks from the Warriors in the trade. Still, this one feels like there were no winners - injuries robbed us of their peak.