|Webber giving his speech during his 2021|
Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement
|No. 4, 2, 84|
|Born:||January 1, 1973|
|Listed height:||6 ft 10 in|
|Listed weight:||245 lbs (111 kg)|
|National Basketball Association debut|
|Debut: 1993 for the Golden State Warriors|
|Final season: 2008 for the Golden State Warriors|
|High school:||Detroit Country Day (MI)|
|NBA Draft:||1993 / Rnd: 1 / Pick: 1st|
|Career highlights and awards|
He is a 5-time NBA All-Star, a 5-time All-NBA Team member, a former NBA Rookie of the Year, and a former number one overall NBA draftee for the Golden State Warriors. He later played for teams including the Washington Bullets/Wizards, Sacramento Kings, Philadelphia 76ers, and Detroit Pistons.
As a collegiate athlete, he was a first-team All-American and led the Michigan Wolverines' 1991 incoming freshman class known as the Fab Five that reached the 1992 and 1993 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship games as freshmen and sophomores. However, Webber was indicted by a federal grand jury and stripped of his All-American honors by the NCAA as a result of his direct involvement in the Ed Martin scandal. He is also a former National High School Basketball Player of the Year who led his high school Detroit Country Day to three Michigan State High School Basketball Championships. He is now an on-air commentary for NBA games, in addition to a university professor teaching at schools including Wake Forest University and Morehouse College. On May 16, 2021, after being eligible since 2013, it was announced Webber would be a part of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2021.
After graduating from high school, Webber attended the University of Michigan for two years. While a Wolverine, Webber led the group of players known as the Fab Five, which included himself, Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson. This group, all of whom entered Michigan as freshmen in the fall of 1991, took the basketball team to the NCAA finals twice, losing both times. The Fab Five, sporting long, baggy shorts and black socks, became immensely popular as they were seen as bringing a hip hop flavor to the game. Four of the Fab Five (Webber, Rose, Howard, and King) made it to the NBA.
On April 5, 1993, at Michigan's second consecutive NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship game with 11 seconds remaining, Webber brought the ball up the court into a half court trap. Michigan was down 73–71. Webber attempted to call for a timeout while his team had none remaining, resulting in a technical foul that effectively clinched the game for North Carolina. Webber continues to receive ridicule for his time-out error; when he joined Inside the NBA in 2008, part of the humorous initiation ceremony was the question "In college basketball how many timeouts do you get in a game?" (Webber replied, "I still don't know the answer!")
The game marked the end of Webber's acclaimed two-year collegiate basketball career. In his second season, he was a first team All-American selection and a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award and Naismith College Player of the Year. These awards and honors have been vacated due to University of Michigan and NCAA sanctions related to the University of Michigan basketball scandal. In that scandal, Webber received over $200,000 from a local booster while playing basketball for Michigan. Webber was convicted of perjury and banned from any affiliation with the Michigan program until 2013.
Despite the ban, Webber attended the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship game between Michigan and Louisville. He apparently watched the game from a private suite, rather than in the grandstands near courtside, where the other members of the Fab Five watched the game together. Webber posted on Twitter before the game: "I'm here at the Georgia Dome to show my support for the Michigan men's basketball team in its quest for a National Championship. I've known some of the players on the team since they were kids and I am excited for them and all of the student athletes on the court tonight who are wearing the Michigan uniform. It has been a great season and I wish them all the best."
After college, Webber entered the 1993 NBA Draft, and was the number 1 selection by the Orlando Magic. However, on draft night, he was traded to the Golden State Warriors in exchange for the draft rights of Penny Hardaway (selected 3rd) and future draft picks.
Golden State Warriors
Webber had an outstanding first year, averaging 17.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game and winning the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. He wore the number 4. He was instrumental in leading the Warriors back into the playoffs. However, he had a long-standing conflict with his coach, Don Nelson. Nelson wanted to make Webber primarily a post player, despite Webber's superb passing ability and good ball handling skills for someone his size at 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) tall. Webber also disliked playing a substantial amount of time at center, given Nelson's propensity towards smaller, faster line ups. In the 1994 off-season, the Warriors acquired Rony Seikaly so that Webber could play primarily at power forward. However, at the time, the differences between Webber and Nelson were considered to be irreconcilable. Webber exercised a one-year escape clause in his contract, stating he had no intention of returning to the Warriors. With few alternatives, Golden State agreed to a sign and trade deal, sending Webber to the Washington Bullets (now the Wizards) for forward Tom Gugliotta and three first round draft picks.
Webber was traded in his second year to the Washington Bullets, where he was reunited with his college teammate and friend, Juwan Howard. He wore number 2, but then switched to his regular 4. He spent the next three years with the Bullets (later renamed the Washington Wizards), although in the 1995–96 season injuries limited him to only 15 games. Webber rebounded the following year and was named to his first All-Star team in 1997. The same season, Webber led the Bullets into the playoffs for the first time in nine years, but they were swept by the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. By 1998, Webber had established himself as a great power forward, but his time in Washington had also worn out.
On May 14, 1998, Webber was traded to the Sacramento Kings for Mitch Richmond and Otis Thorpe. Although Webber originally did not want to go to Sacramento, as they were a perennially losing team, he would go on have his best years in Sacramento and nearly took the Kings to the NBA Championship. When Webber arrived, the Kings also signed small forward Peja Stojaković, center Vlade Divac and drafted point guard Jason Williams. In his first year with the Kings (the lockout-shortened 1998–99 season), Webber won the rebounding title averaging a league high 13.0 rebounds per game, ending Dennis Rodman's seven-year run as the NBA's rebound leader. Under the guidance of Rick Adelman, the surprising Kings team made the playoffs, almost upsetting the veteran Utah Jazz. In years to come, Webber and the Kings became one of the league's top franchises, and NBA title contenders. He was named to the All-Star team again in 2000 and 2001 while cementing his status as one of the premier power forwards in the NBA. For the 1999–2000 NBA season Webber was the cover athlete on NBA Jam 2000. Webber peaked in the 2000–01 season where he averaged a career-high 27.1 points. He also averaged 11.1 rebounds and was 4th in MVP voting. Webber was an All-NBA player five years in a row as a Sacramento King (1999–2003), making the 1st team in 2001 for the only time in his career. During the 2001 NBA Playoffs, Webber and the Kings were defeated by the Los Angeles Lakers in four games during the second round.
On July 27, 2001, Webber signed a $127 million, seven-year contract with the Kings. In the 2001–02 NBA season, Webber played in 54 games and helped lead the Kings to a Pacific division title and a franchise record (and league best) 61–21 season. He also made his fourth All-Star team and the All-NBA Second Team. The Kings reached the Western Conference Finals, against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. The Kings led the series 3–2 but eventually lost in 7 games. The 2002 Western Conference Final between the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers was one of the most memorable (and controversial) in league history. The popular (though small-market) Kings led the two-time defending NBA champion Lakers three games to two heading into Game 6 at Staples Center, a game which would prove to be the most infamous of the series. The game, which the Lakers won by four, featured many controversial calls, including a late game foul on Mike Bibby—after he was bleeding from being elbowed in the nose by Kobe Bryant. All told, the Lakers shot 27 free throws in the fourth quarter. This game was the epitome of the major issue in the series. Both teams complained about the officiating at different points in the series (the Kings in Game 6 and the Lakers in Games 2 and 5).
The Kings would go on to lose Game 7 of the series at home. Former NBA referee Tim Donaghy filed in court papers in 2008 said that Game 6 was fixed by the NBA. NBA Commissioner David Stern denied Donaghy's allegations. Lawrence Pedowitz, who led a review of the league's officiating following the outbreak of the scandal, concluded that while Game 6 was poorly officiated, no concrete evidence existed of it having been fixed. It would be the closest that Webber would ever get to a championship.
The next season, Webber had another superb year, averaging 23 points and 11 rebounds per game. He was cited as a possible MVP candidate, and made his fifth consecutive All-Star team. In a bad sign of what was to come, Webber missed the All Star game with a sprained ankle. Nevertheless, he returned and the Kings were among the favorites to win the NBA Championship.
In the second game of the 2003 Western Conference Semifinals against the Dallas Mavericks, Webber suffered a career-threatening knee injury while running down the lane untouched that forced him to miss nearly a year of action. This shattered Sacramento's title hopes, and they would go on to lose the series in seven games despite valiant efforts from teammates Bibby and Stojakovic. After microfracture surgery, he returned for the final 23 games of the 2003–04 season, but his athleticism, agility, and mobility were never the same. The injury turned out to be the turning point in Webber's career and he was traded a few months later.
In February 2005, Webber, along with Michael Bradley and Matt Barnes, were traded to the Philadelphia 76ers for power forward Kenny Thomas, forward/center Brian Skinner, and former King Corliss Williamson. Webber took some time to fit in with the 76ers offense, where he was the second scoring option, behind Allen Iverson. While wearing number 4, Webber eventually helped catapult the Sixers to a berth in the 2005 playoffs, where the Sixers lost to the Detroit Pistons. However, they did not reach the playoffs in 2006, despite Webber putting up a resurgent 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. Because of the microfracture surgery on his knee, Webber lost his lateral quickness and jumping ability. While he still possessed offensive skills, he was seen as a defensive liability and was usually benched for the 4th quarters. This caused Webber to reportedly call for a trade.
On Tuesday, April 18, 2006, Webber and Iverson were fined for not showing up at the Philadelphia 76ers final home game of the season, which was Fan Appreciation Night, although both of them were injured and not expected to play. The following day they both apologized for being absent.
During the 2006–07 season Webber only played 18 of 35 games for the Sixers leading the media to question his motivation. On January 11, 2007 Sixers GM Billy King announced that the Sixers and Webber had agreed to a reported $25 million contract buyout on the remaining two years left on his contract, in effect paying him not to play. Later that day, the Sixers waived Webber, making him a free agent.
On January 16, 2007, Webber signed with the Detroit Pistons. He has stated throughout his career that he always wanted to play for his hometown team. His usual number 4 had been retired in honor of Joe Dumars, so Webber donned the number 84, because his nephew had a dream of him making a buzzer beater with that number on. The Pistons were a much improved basketball team after Webber's acquisition, improving their record in the Eastern Conference and solidifying the first seed in the East. However, the Eastern Conference favorites failed to advance to the finals after losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals, leaving Webber short of an NBA Finals appearance yet again. Indeed, Webber performed well in the 2007 NBA Playoffs despite receiving limited minutes. Webber still managed to average 10 points and 6 rebounds per game in the playoffs and shot an impressive 52.4% from the field. His efforts were highlighted by a game 5 performance in the Eastern Conference Finals in which Webber scored 20 points (including 5 points in the double overtime period) on 9 of 13 shooting and grabbed 7 boards. Nevertheless, Detroit still lost what turned out to be the key game in the series in double overtime and Webber ended up averaging a career low 11.2 PPG in his run with the Pistons. During the off season, Detroit did not resign Webber. Despite receiving lucrative proposals from teams in Europe, he was in free agency at the beginning of the regular season.
Return to the Warriors
On January 29, 2008, the Warriors signed Webber for the rest of the season. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the San Francisco Chronicle reported that he would receive the pro-rated veteran's minimum of $1.2 million (approximately $570,000). This came after a rejected offer by the Los Angeles Lakers who were trying to coax Webber in with two 10-day contracts so they could decide afterwards if they wanted him the rest of the season. This also put to rest talks of joining the Detroit Pistons, Dallas Mavericks, or retirement. Wearing his number 4, he played in only nine games for the Warriors, averaging 3.9 points and 3.6 rebounds in 14 minutes per game.
On March 25, 2008, Webber officially retired from basketball due to persistent problems with his surgically repaired knee and was waived by the Warriors. On March 27, 2008, Webber made his first appearance on television on Inside the NBA on TNT, alongside Charles Barkley and host Ernie Johnson. On April 25, 2008, TNT offered Webber a job to be a commentator for the post season.
On February 6, 2009, Webber returned to ARCO Arena, home of the Kings, to participate in the ceremonies surrounding the retirement of his jersey, #4.
Webber attending the 2011 NBA All-Star Game
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