Chris Webber—a name synonymous with unfulfilled expectations, hype, and the invention of baggy shorts in college.
No NBA championships, a boatload of talent, and an injury-riddled career. That's what I think of when I think of Chris Webber.
The real question is, "Is Chris Webber a hall-of-famer?"
That will be debated when its time comes, but is it realistic to give C-Webb the nod? He did explode onto the NBA scene after the Michigan Fab Five, full of hope, promise, and attitude.
His career averages of 20.7 PPG, 9.8 RPG and 4.2 APG aren't too shabby, and his high season of 27.1 PPG, 11.1 RPG, and 4.2 APG is amazing and ranks highly with other talented forwards the league has seen.
So why is it a debate whether Webber will join the elite in the Hall of Fame? Simply because he never seemed to reach his ceiling, and his inability to take over when it mattered most is like basketball suicide.
We judge great players on two basic principles: clutch performances and championships. Players who are forever entrenched in sports hierarchy were able to take on both challenges.
Michael Jordan won six NBA championships, and made numerous clutch shots, such as my personal favorite against Utah. Shaquille O'Neal took over games when necessary en route to three LA Laker championships, and Tim Duncan was San Antonio's go-to guy throughout their championship run which isn't quite over yet.
Tim Duncan's career numbers aren't much better than Webber's (21.6 PPG, 11.9 RPG and 3.2 APG). Of course, the glaring differences are Duncan's four titles and his defensive prowess. Nevertheless, Webber isn't far from Duncan on paper.
In the actual arena though, the differences are immense. Tim Duncan is a superstar who is highly feared on BOTH sides of the ball, and his uncanny ability to balance emotion and ability with charisma is untouched by any other big man in recent history. Chris Webber has those attributes too, but seemed afraid of what he could be.
Think about it. Who would leave Golden State in the prime of Latrell Sprewell, who was actually really good before chokegate, Tim Hardaway, Chris Mullin, Chris Gatling, etc?
He feuded with Donny Nelson because he was hard-headed and arrogant and left a great opportunity. Where did he play next? Washington Bullets. Great decision, Chris. Leave Tyra Banks for Roseanne Barr. No disrespect.
After a few pointless seasons there he wound up in Sacramento, a great place to hone his talents with the likes of new point guard Mike Bibby, defensive star Doug Christie, and Vlade Divac, another talent who never quite lived up to his billing. In those dynasty years of the Lakers and Spurs, Webber seemed to be a single star amongst the Big Dipper as he let his team down in the clutch constantly.
If Bibby wasn't taking a big shot, nobody was. And where was Chris? On the low block being extremely passive like everyone in the movie "He Got Game" with the exception of Ray Allen, the movie's star.
And the injuries man, the injuries. His back and knees went out on him constantly, forcing microfracture surgery and him playing in under 75 games for all but three of his NBA seasons. This of course, contributed to his loss of effectiveness and shortening his career.
At the twilight of the day, Chris Webber was a very talented forward who took the NBA by storm. His abilities to score and pass as a nearly seven-foot big man are amongst the best we've seen at the position. Contrastingly, his lack of will and assertiveness left him as just another talented player who never reached his highest plateau.
Hall-of-fame? If the voters like gaudy numbers. Other than that, Webber will be in the HOF of futility and unspeakable talent.
He just might make it.