My Childhood Officially Ends Today

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.

Posted by Simon at 9:55 AM   Digg! submit to reddit BallHype: hype it up!


When you get to be my age, 25 is still a kid. But I grasp what you're saying.

MoonDog said...
4:34 PM  

Yes, there were many, many better stories than a quintet of cheating freshmen who lost in two consecutive NCAA finals and then had all their achievements nullified for their transgressions.

There were many, many better stories than that.

Anonymous said...
7:46 PM  

As a fellow 25 year old, I am also feeling old today, but not as bad as when Eric Lindros (who was without a doubt my fav hockey player until he left the Flyers) retired.

Anonymous said...
8:18 PM  

very well said. i never looked at it like that

Anonymous said...
10:20 PM  

Better more fun stories? Either your an elitist/moralist or a Buckeyes fan?

I'm sorry but chances are most people would take money if they were a top athlete and someone told them they wouldn't get caught. Not like anyones a saint.

Simon said...
10:25 PM  

I'm 28, and had moments like that with Mark McGwire (my first season following baseball he was a rookie) and more recently Brett Favre. It's a surprisingly emotional passage, but one we all must take...

matthewclemmon said...
10:47 PM  

Nice article. I was a huge fan of CWEBB and the Fab 5. I can recite most of Mitch Albom's book about that season.

Anonymous said...
10:58 PM  

Thank Jebus I am not a Flyers fan. IF I had to try and immortalize Eric Lindros to myself I may just throw up.

I myself am a Penguins fan and got to see Mario in person over 50 times from 1988 to October 2005. Ive seen him score goals all ways one game (12/31/88). He brought me two championships in my lifetime to savour, bought the team with a little help from his friends and secured the increasingly exciting longterm future. With Mario gone the games do feel different, still always exciting, but I've never known a person, sports or not who knew how to put on a show, especially when the lights were on.

Anonymous said...
2:26 AM  

chris webber is a piece of shit. he ruined michigan basketball by taking $180,000 from a booster while in college. if this indiscretion seems forgiveable to you in some context, let's look at its aftermath. there are no banners in crisler arena because michigan was forced to forfeit every game from the fab five seasons. jalen rose has been quoted as saying he never even picked up the tab with his buddies. michigan basketball has the 6th longest ncaa tournament drought amongst all 'power conference' schools, 18 seasons removed from a national championship. webber does not visit campus and has nothing but bad things to say about the institution that springboarded his pro career. he has blamed the athletic department for firing then-coach steve fisher in the aftermath of his own recruiting scandal, believing that fisher should not have had to pay for his own rulebreaking. again, we may forgive a 19 year old succumbing to temptation, but let's revisit these indellible events. chris webber PERJURED himself in court repeatedly. he did not own up to the illegal money, ever. however, his perjury case was conveniently postponed by his attorneys until the nba offseason. webber's sentencing was eventually commuted to community service. the man has never apologized for anything in his life and truly believes he has nothing to apologize for. he projects blame onto those around him and behind him. he burns his bridges and pouts for what he claims to deserve. the money did not feed his family; in fact, he went to private Detroit County Day School for high school ball. i haven't written as cohesively as i'd prefer to, but i will summarize with this: to this lifelong michigan fan, webber will forever mean nothing to me, and i wish him the worst in all things.

Eric R said...
8:29 AM  

Great guy. I hung out with him twice at parties in NY. Zero attitude. Nice to everyone. Good friends with the rapper, NAS. Was at a party and Eddie George came in. It was the day after the OSU-Mich football game. C-Webb immediately went over to Eddie George and started bowing down. Cant speak highly enough about the guy.

Anonymous said...
8:35 AM  

You're 28?

"Simon on Sports" sounds like a name a 12-year old would give their blog.

Nice post though.

Anonymous said...
9:53 AM  

25, but ya the blog was named almost 2 years ago before I ever contemplated coming up with a clever name. So yeah, I was too lazy to ever change it.

Simon said...
10:20 AM  

anon - there was not a quintet of cheating freshmen. Webber was the only one who took $$. And he took all of it when he was still in HS. Like them or not, they changed the face of college basketball forever. This is a good thing, unless you liked the short shorts.

eric r - it was $280K, not $180K. Michigan was not forced to forfeit every game from those years, they chose to do it in an effort to avoid further NCAA sanctions. Trust me, if they had won a championship in 92 or 93, there is no way they would have vacated a title. Also, Webber does not visit campus because UM banned him from having any contact with the university for 10 years as part of their self-imposed sanctions. FYI- it is Country Day, not County Day.

I was an incoming frehman at UM at the same time as the Fab Five. I met all of them (they lived a floor above me in South Quad), and they were fun, affable guys. Believe it or not, Jalen Rose talked more smack while playing Tecmo Bowl than he did on the court. While C-Webb made an error in judgment as a HS student, I can't believe any true UM fan would label him the anti-christ.

Go Blue.

GP_GoBlue95 said...
12:13 PM  

I know how you feel. I feel the same way every time Junior Griffey goes on the DL and I'm left to ponder if it's finally time he hangs it up. I feel the same way whenever I realize I'm older than the athlete I say has "peaked". I'm only 27 and I'm beginning to call college athletes "kids". It sucks getting old.

the_sports_dude said...
4:22 PM  

Love your article and I feel the same. Webber was my favorite athlete of all time and also followed him since the 1st year in Michigan. I'm 29 going on 30 and it sucks when your left looking for someone as exciting and not finding anyone. I loved the way he played the game, as a team player and all around athlete. The Kobe's & Lebron's of today are just a bunch of arrogant idiots who think of no one but themselves. And I am not talking about statistics, I am talking about who they are as people. Webber I wish you the best! And thank you for all the memories.

Anonymous said...
8:14 PM  

I'm 24 turning 25 within 3 days and I only started following basketball in 1996 and pro basketball in 99 but Webber was my favorite player too. Not sure why, but hey ran a great show in Sacramento. I think that as sports spectators we tend to have a mentality that's not consistent with the rest of our lives. We tend to think that not winning the championship or the NCAA title is cosnidered complete failure and it's cliched but true that there's more to the game than winning or losing but how you play the game. Webber and the Kings put up one hell of a fight in the 2002 NBA championships that I'll never forget and made basketball as exciting in Sacramento as it's ever been. So mad props to that and i enjoyed reading your article

OKonheim said...
12:49 AM  

I can't believe all the negative stuff people write about a guy they never met in person. Webber is just a human being. The money thing, while regrettable was understandable. The UM AD is a multimillion dollar enterprise and he and his teammates brought in gazillions to UM. Not that I am a fan - I went to Madison, but I hate seeing a guy vilified after trying his best with the talent that G-d gave him. I wish him all the best and hope he has a good accountant.

Randy Shiner said...
6:08 AM  

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