Of all the great talents who never fifa 15 coins fulfilled their promise, Webber was the only NBA player without a legitimate excuse. On paper, he had everything you’d ever want from a power forward: superior athletic ability, great footwork on the block, soft hands, the rebounding gene, even the passing gene. His background couldn’t derail him because Webber hailed from a middle-class, two-parent family, attended a respected Detroit prep school, and learned quickly how to juggle a Jonas
Brothers–like public persona with a much more urban private persona. He shone in the biggest spotlight possible at Michigan and helped create the iconic “Fab Five,” who became genuine trendsetters with their chest thumping, yelping, baggy shorts and everything else. Everything that happened during his first twenty years seemed to be shaping an influential and successful professional career, a sure thing along the lines of Shaq, Ewing and Robinson.
So what happened? You wouldn’t say C-Webb had an atrocious career or anything. He made five All-Star teams, an All-NBA first team and three All-NBA second teams. He won Rookie of the Year and a rebounding title in 1999. Starring for a series of memorably entertaining Sacramento teams from 1999 to 2003, he was the league’s second-best power forward and submitted a three-year peak of 25–11–5. He also earned a staggering amount of money; the Warriors, Bullets, Kings and Sixers paid him more than $185 million combined, more money than anyone other than Jordan, Shaq or Kevin Garnett. But like with Billy Corgan and Michael Keaton,52 we’ll always wonder why his career didn’t turn out differently. During his prime (1994 to 2004), he played 70 games or fewer in nine different seasons, missed 283 of a possible 850 games and battled a never-ending assortment of injuries, culminating with a knee tear in Sacramento that robbed him of his explosiveness and forced him to change his style on the fly (although he remained relatively effective). Webber left us with two mildly fascinating what-ifs beyond the obvious “What if he stayed healthy?” question. We already covered “What if Orlando had just kept his rights?” Here’s a smaller-scale one: “What if the Warriors hadn’t stupidly given C-Webb a massive contract with an opt-out clause after one year?”
Webber entered the Association just when it stupidly started giving youngsters too much negotiating power (the era when inmates were running the asylum), a few years before the powers that be smartened up and pushed for a rookie salary scale. Although many promising careers were affected—including those of Kenny Anderson, Coleman, Vinnie Baker, Larry Johnson, Glenn Robinson, Juwan Howard, Rasheed Wallace, Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, Antoine Walker, Stephon Marbury and Tim Thomas—Webber remains the biggest and most disappointing casualty. Armed with that opt-out clause, he wanted no part of Don Nelson’s abrasive style 53 even though there’s never been a better big man for Nellieball. When Webber threatened to opt out of his contract and sign somewhere else, the Warriors panic-traded him for Tom Gugliotta and three number ones. Instead of leading a perennial contender and playing a style that enhanced his talents, Webber found himself carrying a way-too-young Bullets team, developed bad habits and a lousy attitude, injured his knee, missed 116 games in four years and got shipped to Sacramento in a “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” deal for Mitch Richmond and Otis Thorpe. 54 When he finally found another freewheeling offensive team, he was twenty-six years old. What a shame.