Chris Webber: Oakland Unathletic
It turns out the rumors are true. Chris Webber will indeed sign with the Golden State Warriors. To play basketball. Competitively. For the regular team.
No, I don’t know why either.
Chris Webber has once again signed with an NBA team midseason, to try to bolster their roster and to try to win a championship. I think. To be honest, I’m not quite sure what the motivation is anymore. Maybe Webb is just bored at this point.
I understood him signing with the Pistons last year. That was a veteran squad that was inexperienced in the frontcourt and hurting from the departure of Ben Wallace. They played mostly in the halfcourt, where Webber could use his passing skills to get his teammates some easy buckets and shoot the elbow jumper. While the Pistons faded during their playoff series against the Cavaliers, it was thought that they were the main contenders for the Eastern Conference crown, making it understandable that Webber chose them over the eventual-champion Spurs.
Webber spent the first half of this season doing who knows what. I could say that he was waiting to see what team would need him, but I have no proof to substantiate that claim. I also have no proof to back up a claim that he has waited until now to sign because his body might not be able to endure the rigors of an entire NBA season. There is no truth to the rumor that Webb is trying to impersonate Roger Clemens, minus the large contract demands. At least I don’t think there is. If there is an addendum to the Mitchell Report, we’ll have to check it and see if his name appears.
So now that speculation is fact, what can Webber do for the Warriors? After a slow start, the team has rebounded nicely, placing itself in the thick of the madness that is the Western Conference. They are, if you haven’t had the chance to watch them or if you’re not familiar with the type of basketball that coach Don Nelson employs, a run-and-gun team. (Forgive me for the gun reference, Jack.)
I haven’t seen Chris Webber run since 2003.
I’ve heard through the grapevine that his surgically repaired knee is actually a doorknob, fixed in the locked position. I decided that this was probably closer to truth than the rumors that he actually had a pirate-style peg leg that was sprayed with some sort of "I, Robot" aerosol skin.
So what use do the Warriors have for him? Nelson has been quoted as saying that the team will need a post-presence and a player to operate in the halfcourt come playoff time. The problem with this line of thinking is that a large part of the reason that the Warriors are successful is because of their unconventional style of play. Playing most of the elite teams in their conference in a slowed-down game is going to result in a loss. At 34 years old, Webber is not going to change that.
I’m not totally dogging Webb. I think he can still contribute to an NBA team, even as a shell of his former self. That team, however, would have to cater to his strengths and he would have to complement what the team was already doing. These days, as I mentioned before, Webber is a low-to-high post presence that can hit the midrange jumper and can pass the ball very well.
What things might a running team like Golden State need from a big that Webber can offer?
Fill the lane on the fast break? No.
Hustle and be an energy guy, do the dirty work? No.
Run at all? No.
Move around? No.
Block shots? Negative.
Rebound? Not really. His rebounding came under questioning years ago, before he had knee issues or was on the wrong side of 30.
Get the team crucial baskets in the fourth quarter of playoff games? Go and watch some of the Kings/Lakers series from early this decade and tell me how you’d answer this one.
Have a good relationship with the coach? Webb and Nelson say they’ve worked things out since their lone season together that resulted in Webber demanding a trade and Nelson being shown the door and Warriors languishing in obscurity for the next ten years. Maybe that’s true.
Once you take a look at it, there is a greater potential for things to wrong in Oakland before they go right with the addition of Webber. Perhaps things will work out fine, but I’d bet that the team and its fans will be left scratching their heads come season’s end. They’ll be wondering why they chose to sign an aging, increasingly immobile, declining in skills big man in the middle of an already promising season.
No, I don’t know why either.