If you do not know about my love for C-Webb, than you don't know me well at all.
I'm not a conventional basketball fan. I do not root for teams based on regional or organizational support. San Diego lacks a basketball team of its own ever since the Clippers and Rockets left. Consequently, I root for my favorite players and I follow the teams they are on. Even if they are on perennial underachievers like the LA Clippers, I'll still root for them. Even if they are injury plagued for seasons and near the end of their careers, I'll still root for them.
Chris Webber is my favorite athlete of all time period. There is no one else that comes even close to him. Absolutely no one.
When I was young, I was a fan of Michael Jordan like practically every NBA fan in the world. His retirement was a major disappointment and blow to much of us. Many foolishly lost interest in basketball. I, was one of them.
In December 1999 (yes I remember the date!), I was in my hotel room in Las Vegas and decided to watch some sports. I turned on the TV and saw a Sacramento Kings game on. Admittedly, it was Jason Williams who captivated me. A flashy player with no look behind the back passes leading to open 3 pointers, dunks, and other Sports Center Top 10 plays. However, it was C-Webb who sustained my interest for the long run.
The Sacramento Kings years were the best years for a C-Webb fan. He was at the height of his career and turned a lottery team into not only a playoff team, but a contender. Each season, the Kings progressed further into the playoffs. The Kings were renowned for their homecourt advantage, harboring the loudest fans in the league according to Sports Illustrated.
C-Webb wanted a ring just as much as anyone else in the league. He was a more private and mysterious man and often times, this gave the feeling that he did not care, but nothing is further from the truth. Just because he did not scream like Kevin Garnett or take clutch shots like Kobe Bryant, it does not mean he is less hungrier than these extraordinary individuals. C-Webb wanted a championship ring, he wanted that one prize many players dream of.
Unfortunately, the Kings' windows of opportunity closed. C-Webb was plagued with nagging knee injuries and had a microfracture surgery, considered one of the deadliest surgeries in basketball. Many players have had their careers shorten because of the same problem: Penny Hardaway, Antonio McDyess, Allan Houston, and Jamal Mashburn.
Nevertheless, C-Webb did not give up. During the 2003 season, C-Webb returned early from injury to help his team. During his absence, Peja Stojakovic emerged as one of the most improved rising stars in the league. He was even considered an MVP candidate. However, when C-Webb returned early, instead of being appreciated, fans considered him a hindrance. He was booed a few times when he could not perform at the level he was before his surgery. Still, he persisted despite the criticisms. He continued to help his team.
During his final full season as a Kings, the team lost against the emerging Minnesota Timberwolves lead by Kevin Garnett, Latrell Sprewell, and Sam Cassell. In his last playoffs game as a Kings, C-Webb took the final shot. A 3 point attempt to potentially tie the game. He clanked off the rim and his days as a Kings were over. C-Webb fell to the ground and pounded his fists onto the floor. Kevin Garnette consoled him and told him that he needs to get healthy and return.
He returned next season, but was traded away in February to the Philadelphia Sixers. At the time, there was both excitement and skepticism about him becoming a Sixers. Some believed he was at the end of his career and the Sixers took on a huge contract on a questionable player. Others believed C-Webb could provide the much needed assistance Allen Iverson had long been searching for. Unfortunately, that never worked out. C-Webb's contract was bought out and he became a free agent.
The following season, he returned as a Pistons in his hometown of Detroit. Reduced a role player, C-Webb continued his quest for a ring. He came close again, reaching the Conference finals. Despite playing limited minutes, he performed well and had a very memorable overtime performance in Game 5. Throughout his career, C-Webb has been consistently criticized , deservedly so, for disappearing during crunch time. This time, he didn't. Detroit ended up losing to the Cleveland Cavs.
This season, C-Webb was unsigned. The Detroit Pistons showed some interests, but were unable to create a roster seat for him. Lucrative contracts to play in Greece were offered to C-Webb, but he declined them. He wanted to stay in the NBA and continue his pursuit for a championship ring. In 2008, he signed with the Golden State Warriors, the place he began his career. This is also the place where he will end his career on March 26, 2008.
Throughout his career, C-Webb was renowned for being a tremendously smart basketball player. A power forward with excellent passing skills, many analysts considered his hands to be one of the finest in league history. Statisically, C-Webb's numbers are not only impressive, but difficult to achieve: 20 ppg, 10 rpg, and 4apg. These numbers alone are arguments for his inclusion in the Hall of Fame.
Many times, he was criticized and deservedly so in some cases. However, he was also a tremendous player, a team captain, a MVP candidate, an All-Star, and a legend in my eyes.
Unlike Jordan's retirement, I have no intentions on ending my basketball fanaticism. If there is a legacy that C-Webb has left in me, its the passion for basketball. I'm not a fool this time, I'll continue to watch for basketball is my passion.
Thanks for everything C-webb.