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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Chris Webber – Say It Is Not So!

I cannot believe what I have been reading for the past 24 hours on the Internet – that Chris Webber may be a member Los Angeles Lakers very soon. This is one of those true conflicts in life, per say. For years, I have disliked even the mention of Chris Webber’s name – as well as anything associated with the Sacramento Kings. My dislike for Mr. Webber was so well noted, that family members bought me a framed 8x10 picture for Chris one year for Christmas. Yes, as a joke.

However, the popular news on the Internet right now is that Chris is destined to be the newest member of the Los Angeles Lakers. While it is still largely speculation, we have to consider the question. Can I cheer for Chris Webber as a member of a Laker team?

Although it would be difficult, I think I could bring myself to do it. Provided that he did not comment about there be nothing good to eat in Los Angeles and he is a rejuvenated player again. Phil Jackson can work wonders with some players, and hopefully Webber would not be an exception to that. The Lakers do need another post player who can actually score. Chris Mihm is out for the season, and Lamar Odom and Kwame Brown are slowly recovering from injuries. I think a starting line-up of Smush Parker, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Chris Webber, & Andrew Bynum would be a great starting five that could compete in the West!

Of course this is wild speculation at this point, but it could happen.


Come with me now as I take a journey along Chris Webber’s memory lane. The advice here is to wear steel-toed boots and a helmet, because it’s rough going:

There was the infamous timeout when his team didn’t have any left at the end of Michigan’s loss to North Carolina in the NCAA championship game in 1993.

There was the personality clash with Don Nelson at Golden State, which led to Webber being traded to Washington.

There were the scrapes with the law involving marijuana and driving while living in D.C.

There were the lies he told to a grand jury investigating Ed Martin, a former Michigan booster.

There was his complaint that Sacramento had no good places to eat, which didn’t sit well with Sacramentonians.

And there was his stay in Philadelphia; to put as positive a spin as possible on it, at least he is appreciated there more than Terrell Owens.

When you’re a professional athlete and all you have are lowlights, then the lowlights become the highlights of your career.

This is where Chris Webber is today. He’s almost 34, suffering from ankle and foot problems and, no doubt, mental fatigue both from the Allen Iverson trade watch and aftermath, and the indignity of playing for a team that has the worst record (9-26) in an awful conference.
To make matters worse, the Sixers have now reached a buyout with Webber, which means events have become so toxic there that the team simply said, “Just get out. We’ll pay you most of the more than $40 million we still owe you. Just get out.”

Clearly, Webber has reached his nadir. In a movie, this is the end of the second act, when the main character has reached his lowest point. Think George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” being ridiculed by Mr. Potter and then contemplating his own demise in the icy river. What matters now, of course, is what he does next. A suggestion to this lost, miserable soul: Give the Lakers a call. Mitch Kupchak and Phil Jackson just might be your guardian angels.

Does Chris Webber have any basketball left in him? Good question. Webber is the only one who can answer that. This season he’s averaging just over 11 points (the worst of his career) and eight rebounds per game, down from 20 and 10 last season. He has also not played in 10 of the Sixers’ last 13 games.

This could be because his body is breaking down and he’s ready for retirement. It could also be that he’s so mentally and emotionally drained after 13-plus NBA seasons full of strife and disappointment that he just doesn’t care anymore.

So why would the Lakers want a guy like that?

They wouldn’t. But they could use a revitalized and rejuvenated Webber who suddenly is excited again about playing basketball.

Webber’s career path is not exactly like Bob McAdoo’s, but it has similarities. McAdoo was a supremely talented big man who played on teams like the Buffalo Braves, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons. He was always his team’s top scorer and most prominent star, and as a result was often ripped for not making horrible teams better. But when McAdoo came to the Lakers to be a scorer off the bench on a star-studded team, his mood and outlook brightened, and basketball was fun again. He was instrumental in helping L.A. win the championship in 1982.

If Webber came to the Lakers, he undoubtedly would experience a similar renaissance. The Lakers don’t necessarily need him, but they sure could use him. At his best, Webber is a reliable scorer both in the post and from the perimeter. His experience would prove beneficial on a team that is startlingly young.

Certainly there is a concern about his attitude. If he came to the Lakers, would he and Kobe Bryant butt heads? Would Webber sulk and pout when he doesn’t get his way, as he is wont to do?

Webber has been a problem child, but he’s no imbecile. He understands that his reputation is in tatters, and that he’s down to his last chance. If somebody throws you a life preserver, the natural reaction is to be grateful, not to complain that it isn’t big and fancy enough. No matter which team he lands on, Webber would be insane if he did anything other than play his heart out in whatever role he’s asked to perform.

The Lakers are in fine shape without C-Web. They can play with anybody in the NBA. But that isn’t the goal. The goal is to beat anybody in the NBA in a seven-game playoff series. These Lakers are getting there, but they’re not there yet. Adding Webber — especially since Chris Mihm is out for the year and Kwame Brown and Lamar Odom are slow to recover from their injuries — would boost their prospects considerably.

Since Webber already has enough money to buy his own franchise, he probably could be had by the Lakers for a pittance. If Webber is in a positive state of mind and has his priorities straight — i.e., wanting to play for a winner and enjoy himself rather than sell himself to the highest bidder to feed his ego — he’ll gladly jump aboard without regard to salary. At this point, it should be about winning. Personal redemption will come with team success.

This is one time that Chris Webber needs to take a timeout. It’ll give him a chance to think about where he’s been, and where he should go next to forget about where he’s been.


Ace said...

I'm conflicted about the possible Chris Webber Aquisition.

Check out my Lakers Blog at: