Well, that didn’t work.
But as they say: no harm, no foul. That’s the best way to look at today’s news that Chris Webber is announcing his retirement tomorrow, a headline that will no doubt be met across the country by a resounding, “C-Webb was still playing?”
It seemed almost too perfect. As the rest of the Western Conference looked for any way to get bigger, faster or both, the Warriors let nostalgia get the best of them and reunited Don Nelson with the only player he ever had a public feud with.
On the surface it made at least a little sense. The Warriors are small, and Webber is not. The Warriors struggle in the half court, and Webber can run the high screen and roll. And the Warriors were already good, so all Webber had to do was just add more than he subtracted.
However, Nellie got visions of Steve Fisher and Rick Adelman, deciding he was not only going to start C-Webb, but announce to the media that he would be starting all season. In Webber’s first games one could see that was a bad idea, one that would have been immediately booed off the floor if not for the consensus opinion that Nellie is the best coach in the Bay Area.
But as the games wore on, it was easy to see why Detroit wouldn’t even touch Webber during the offseason even after he played decent minutes in the 2007 playoffs for the Pistons, and why the Lakers wouldn’t guarantee him anything more than a 10-day contract. Webber served as the anchor the Warriors never knew they needed, slowing down the fastest team in the league.
Normally a gifted scorer, Webber could neither elevate around the basket nor shoot effectively from the perimeter. Never known as a fabulous or even capable defender, Webber was unable to guard bigger forwards one-on-one or contribute to the Warriors’ frenetic, ball-hawking style of team defense. Whenever he was taken off the floor and replaced by Al Harrington, Kelenna Azubuike or Mickael Pietrus, it was almost like the Warriors would suddenly gain their identity back. Soon his knee took him off the court permanently.
The funny thing is it didn’t hurt the team one bit, really. The Warriors’ record since Webber’s first game with the team is 14-8, and nobody’s feelings got hurt during his brief stay.
What did the team gain? A little publicity perhaps, and some free ribs for Nellie at C-Webb’s restaurant in Sacramento. The only person who lost anything was owner Chris Cohan, who agreed to pay Webber a prorated version of the veteran’s minimum. And let’s be honest, nobody’s losing any sleep over that, probably not even Cohan himself.
Surely Nelson would have loved Webber to come and help him erase two frayed corners from his mint condition Hall of Fame resume — his lack of an NBA Championship and his cold to tempestuous relationships with rookies, highlighted by the Webber ordeal in 1993. However, the NBA is too tough to win with cute storylines, and now C-Webb reuniting with Nellie is one that will be soon forgotten.