May 24, 2011

Everything I Know About Chris Webber

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Michigan’s Fab Five (left to right) Jimmy King, Jalen Rose, Webber, Ray Jackson and Juwan Howard

He was born somewhere in Michigan.  He has a mom.  He was raised in a middle-upper class milieu and attended a private high school.  This was somewhat distressing for Chris because he wanted desperately to be “hard,” but you can’t be hard playing basketball in economically-depressed Detroit if you attend a private school.  I remember reading or hearing somewhere that Chris would often eat his lunch alone in a bathroom stall because he felt like he didn’t fit in at private school.

Chris was 6’8” when he was 16 and was widely regarded as the best high school basketball player in the country.  He was recruited by every college but decided to go to the University of Michigan with his friend Jalen Rose and other top-100 recruits Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson, and Jimmy King.  They were called the “Fab 5.”  They were notorious for wearing baggy shorts, black socks, and talking a lot.  The incumbent Michigan players sort of hated them for the same reasons everyone else hated them, but also because the Fab 5 took away their playing time.  I remember reading in a book called “The Fab 5” by Mitch Albom, in the first practice the Fab 5 attended the coaches were making teams for a scrimmage and Jalen Rose screamed “freshman against y’all” then the Fab 5 not only beat but destroyed the upperclassmen, embarrassing them thoroughly and repeatedly.  Ever since I read that I’ve wanted to scream “freshman against y’all” at some competitive juncture, but it’s never really felt right.

The Fab 5 went to two consecutive national championship games in 1991 and 1992, but lost both times.  Everyone sort of knew Chris Webber was way better than everyone else but in the ’92 championship game, in the final seconds, he called a timeout when the team didn’t have any timeouts left and this cost Michigan the game.  The incident is referred to as “the timeout” and is one of the most egregious errors in cognizance in all of sports.  Jalen Rose recently produced a documentary about the Fab 5 for ESPN and Chris Webber was the only member who refused to be interviewed, presumably due to not wanting to talk about “the timeout.”  Oh, also, it turned out Chris had “accepted money” from “a booster,” which is a violation of NCAA rules/regulations and, as a result, the University of Michigan has expunged all evidence of the Fab 5 from their records.

Chris Webber entered the NBA draft after that ’92 national championship loss and was drafted first overall by the Orlando Magic but traded immediately to the Golden State Warriors in a deal that also included Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway.  Chris Webber won rookie of the year, I think, but got traded to the Washington Bullets and then a few years later to the Sacramento Kings.  He played with the Kings longer than any other team and enjoyed relative success there.  They made it as far as the Western Conference Finals (one step away from the final finals), but never to the actual finals because they couldn’t get past the Lakers, who had Kobe and Shaq and some other guys, though it’s widely considered by me that the Kings were a far cooler team at that time.  They had several Eastern European guys that were good at shooting 3’s (Peja Stojakovic and Hedo Turkoglu).  They also had a large and benevolent Serbian named Vlade Divac who once picked up a smaller player so he could dunk, two white point guards who thought they were black (Jason Williams and Mike Bibby), and a guy named Scot Pollard who once told kids to do drugs.  During this time, Chris Webber dated Tyra Banks for two years.

During a playoff game in 2003 maybe, Chris hurt his knee and had to be carried off the court in a very small truck.  His career never really recovered.  He played for some other teams, including the Detroit Pistons and the Philadelphia 76ers, but had lost much of his quickness and athleticism.  According to sources, Chris became somewhat disenfranchised during these years and accounts of him smelling like weed during games are numerous.

I’m not sure when Chris’s playing career ended because he really just petered out, but I know they retired his jersey in Sacramento.  He also became an on-air personality for NBAtv at some point and has been very successful at it, successful enough to get “promoted” to “Inside the NBA” on TNT, which is nationally televised and also features Charles Barkley.  I think Chris even did the play-by-play for the most recent All Star game but I didn’t watch it so I’m not sure.  I also know that C. Webb (as he’s commonly known) collects artifacts pertaining to African American history. TC mark

image – inboundpass
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