FanPost

BF #12 - Chris Webber

[editor's note, by Pradamaster]In memory of Chris Webber's retirement (thanks ,cuppettcj) and because The Big Lead reminded me, here's kdp922's writeup on Chris Webber from over the summer. Enjoy, again.

The game thread is coming, my apologies. It's been a busy day, and it doesn't help that thinking about last night's loss leaves me sick to my stomach. -PM

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(Part 9 of a 20 part series on the BF Top 20. Speaking of bullets, make sure to vote for the name of the daily link posts. Jackpitt is up next with Bernard King. Until then, enjoy kdp's write-up on Chris Webber. -Jake)

Look, I'm not going to pull any punches. I had stopped watching my Washington squad until Michael Jordan stepped out of the owner's box and into the ice pack room. The reason? Good ol' Abe and Wes, better known as flat A&W Root Beer, traded away the wrong guy and I was sick of it. It was crunchtime, as far as the direction of our once proud franchise was concerned. Well, at least that's what they tell me as I was still in my terrible two's when we went to back-to-back Finals.  All the rumors of excessive night life, affairs with Mary Jane and a general fear of `the new NBA' player meant good ol'`Bring Out the Cake' was starting to get nervous. The team had to be broken up. Never mind that we were on the precipice of potential greatness (or a potential technical called for not having enough timeouts, but I digress). We couldn't risk the bad publicity of being in the nation's capital and having our franchise player continuously giving us black eyes. I understand that, but Webber was my man from way back. I was a Fab Five fan, and when the Bullets traded for him on November 17th, 1994 to join up with Juwan Howard, you couldn't tell me a thing. Of course a month in, he dislocated his shoulder and missed 19 games, a precursor to a injury riddled career- but who knew that back then? He came back from that injury to score 3 triple doubles in 14 games and for the first time since the Jeff Malone era--this franchise had hope. Webber opted out of surgery on the shoulder hoping rest and rehabilitation would solve the problem. Sound plan. Uh huh.

The following season, things looked to be rounding into shape... except for Webber's shoulder. We had drafted UNC stud Rasheed Wallace to form one of the most dynamic front courts ever assembled. Don't believe me? Check out this highlight video...


Before the season, Webber signed a 6-year $58.5 million contract that was supposed to keep Webber in town through the remainder of his prime. Of course, 8 days after signing the contract he re-injured the shoulder in a preseason game. Oh, it's nothing... until he completely dislocated it four days later. He would miss the first portion of the season and not return until after Thanksgiving. He lasted until Christmas (I'm not Jewish, but am I allowed to say `Oy!'?)  One month after that, he underwent season ending surgery, as the Bullets finished 39-43--10th place in the east and a marked improvement to the 21 wins from the previous season. We were turning the corner and all of us could see it. We did this only having C-Webb for 15 games.  The crowning achievement to me?? The Bullets were UNSTOPPABLE in NBA Live. Ask any of my boys- they will tell you the cold hard truth of my domination. There was no doubt the Bullets were destined for greatness. Gheorghe and Calbert  averaged 15 ppg each. Think about that for a minute.

You ever go through a rough stretch in your life, finally reach a silver lining and think things have turned the corner only to lead to a brick wall? That's what the next two seasons were for me. In 1996, a healthy Webber was being integrated back into the team. Under Kim Lynam (yes, I said Kim) we started off 22-24 and he was replaced by Bernie Bickerstaff. We went on a tear, with Webber leading the team in points (20.1) rebounding (10.3) and blocks (1.9) as he made his very first All Star appearance. They had traded Rasheed Wallace to Portland for Rod Strickland (the most underrated Bullets player ever) in a move that gets lumped into the bad trades Washington has made, even though Strickland's game was what transformed us into real playoff contenders.  The Bulltets were moving downtown next season with a new name of the Wizards (remember how horrible we thought the name was?) They won the final four games of the season, including a last game victory over Cleveland to edge them out for the eighth playoff spot. The drought was over! We did it! The first round matchup against the Bulls was just icing on the cake. Though swept, each game went down to the stretch in a way no 8th seed is supposed to compete with Air (not Eddie) Jordan in his prime. To those watching, the only thing missing was the big game experience to know how to finish an opponent off. Even Jordan said after the series how tough it was and that he expected the Washington franchise to be title contenders for years to come.

Hello brick wall, not nice to meet you. Coming off the inspiring showing in the playoffs, Webber was named to the US World Championship team prior to the 97-98 season. Enjoying another standout season, Webber was all set to be named to a second consecutive all-star team when Jan 20th happened. Punishment Guaranteed. That's what we call PG Police and Chris Webber can attest to that. That night, stopped for a traffic violation, Webber was maced and assaulted by the police that claimed he had marijuana in his car. Of course, they say he was resisting arrest, but no charge came of that claim. This was really the first `incident' Webber had as a Wizard that reached the public's eyesight. There were many other indicators that winter that said otherwise to the people of the city. Webber was steadily getting the `party guy' reputation (not that there's anything wrong with that) and was often seen late into the night frequenting the famous Washington DC club scenes. One of my former flings was a high-level basketball groupie and she used to recount some of the hottub stories of those years... let's just say that PG Police could have possibly stepped in on more then just that traffic citation. Transgressions transgressions transgressions. Late in the season as the Bullets were gearing up for another playoff run, as Rod Strickland caught the injury bug--Webber was really starting to develop into one of the top 3 or 4 power forwards in the league. Then the party happened. On April 6th,  Montgomery County police announced they were investigating charges of sexual assault by Webber and Howard related to a party at Howard's home. Nothing came of the charges, and Juwan even later won a lawsuit against the woman, but the damage was done. The team was changing it's name from the Bullets to the Wizards, moving into a new arena and didn't want to have the negative press associated with the franchise. Understandable--but they traded a young up and coming loq post force  for a washed up shooting guard that had never won anything in his life. This made sense? My favorite writer Bill Simmons constantly writes that there are only 7-8 quality GMs in basketball--I would have paid good money to watch him chronicle our team during these years. Washington traded away my high school hero- and there was no more joy in Mudville folks. I followed Webber to Sactown and spent many nights watching the late game of the TNT double headers... until Jordan touched down.

This represents the view of the user who wrote the FanPost, and not the entire Bullets Forever community. We're a place of many opinions, not just one.

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