Wednesday, March 26, 2008
I'm 25 so I'm not exactly a child anymore anyway, but today marks the end of my sports adolescence. If you ask me the question of whom was your favorite baseball player or football player as a kid chances are you would get a different answer depending on the day. But if you asked me who was your favorite basketball player or favorite athlete in general, the answer is simple and immediate. The answer is Chris Webber.
As a kid I was always infatuated with the NCAA tournament. I used to watch all the games, fill out all the brackets and tape them on my door. Year by year the brackets would add up and that's what my door was covered in. NCAA brackets. Thus it didn't take much for me to become a fan of the Fab Five. Was there ever a better show? A better story than five freshmen dominating a team and taking them all the way to the finals? I was 9 when they made their first final four run and it was over, I was marked a Michigan fan for life and a CWebb follower. The next season I watched as many Michigan games as I could and was devastated when CWebb made the mindless mistake of calling a timeout he didn't have.
When he announced his intentions to enter the draft I was initially disappointed at the fact that the Fab Five was no more but I was pumped that my favorite player had a chance to be the #1 pick. Then on draft day I thought he might be paired with Shaq, what a combo that could have been, but instead the Magic and Warriors made a flip flop sending CWebb to the West Coast. That off season was the biggest card collecting season. I ventured off in a quest to get as many CWebb rookie cards as possible. And one day I hit the jackpot. I got a card that you sent back to the card company and got a pack which included all of the lottery picks. I will never be happier seeing a piece of shiny cardboard than I was when I opened up the mail and saw my shiny CWebb card with him in a Warriors cap.
The rest of his career I constantly rooted for 2 teams. The Celtics and whatever team CWebb played for. The first season I was pumped after Webber helped lead the Warriors back to the playoffs and won the rookie of the year. The next season I was surprised when he was dealt to the Bullets but intrigued by the matching up of him and Juwan Howard. That never really panned out, but I got a sweet CWebb bullets jersey out of the deal. Next the Bullets stupidly traded Webber to the Kings. I thought man that blows the Kings are horrible but alas I was wrong. Webber, Divac, Peja, Bibby, Christie, J-Will, etc. all of those that played while Webber was there created one of the most exciting teams in NBA history. I was extremely pissed when the Lakers pulled off a 7 game series win helped by a stupid Horry triple at the buzzer earlier in the series. That was the closest Webber would ever get to a championship. One failed team rebound attempt turned perfect outlet pass to Big Shot Bob.
After that Webber's career was down hill. Soon after he would blow out his knee attempting to jump in the playoffs and then the deadly word 'Microfracture' was uttered. He no longer had the athleticism which made him great he no longer could be the #1 player or even a premier #2 player. His trip to the 76ers with AI was a complete bust due to his inability to get off the floor. His trip to Detroit put him as a complete roll player. And his trip to Golden St. was merely a last hope that he could still play. But he couldn't.
Chris Webber's career is a career of almosts and not quites. He almost won two NCAA Titles. He almost knocked off the Lakers which would have surely given him his first NBA Title. He almost had a career to get him into the Hall of Fame but the injuries and lack of playoff success will surely keep him out. But with all these not quites there is one thing for certain, Chris Webber was, is and will always be my favorite athlete. And today I am saddened that I will never watch him play again and that the biggest sports link to my childhood is calling it a career.