Rumor: Chris Webber to Retire

Say it ain't so! Marc Stein just dropped this bit on ESPN.com:

Sources close to Webber told ESPN.com on Tuesday that the 35-year-old has decided to retire from the game and end his comeback with the Golden State Warriors after more problems with a surgically repaired left knee that has plagued him for the past half-decade.

Webber is expected to formally announce his plans Wednesday, sources said, less than two months after rejoining the franchise that unleashed him on the NBA as the first overall pick in the 1993 draft and the face most synonymous with Michigan's famed Fab Five team.

Sources said that Webber, unable to play since March 2 because of the latest complications with his knee, decided in the past week to end his pro career after 15 seasons, having struggled with his mobility for the past five of those seasons since a serious tear in the 2003 playoffs that required microfracture surgery.


Is it over?
(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

It's by no means official yet and hopefully CWebb makes a miraculous recovery in time for Thursday's game on TNT, but make the jump for some thoughts that no one else but me is crazy enough to dream up.

Update (6:09pm): Janny Hu is reporting that it's officially over. See Yes, the Chris Webber Experiment is Over [SFGate]

I will freely admit that I was one of the biggest supporters of bringing back Chris Webber to the Golden State Warriors. It was just too storybook to resist. CWebb had the potential to give the Warriors so many new dimensions on the hardwood as well. Sadly, he just wasn't nearly healthy enough to even play more than a few spurts in a few token games. We saw glimpses of what he could do- the interior passing, the superb screens for his teammates, nice rebounding, crafty defense on Kevin Garnett, some picks and swats, but in the end (if this is the end) it was all a complete nonfactor. He had the potential to shore up some of the Warriors glaring holes- a complete lack of interior passing, no low post threat, no player who looks to pass first before looking to score, poor rebounding, a much needed big body in the paint, and overall questionable hoops IQ.

Because of his salary it was virtually a low risk, potentially high reward situation. You have to give Nellie all the credit in the world for trying. They needed (and still need) a big man in the worst way and the master of creativity came up with an out of the box solution that was probably the result of a few too many cheap American cold ones after practice one day. Basketball wise there was no loss here. Hoops soul-wise, it's another issue.

If this is the end, I really hope folks remember the larger impact Chris Webber had on the game of basketball. His run with the Fab 5 was legendary, the draft day swap of him and Penny Hardaway was historical, the Warriors and their trash talking and dunking duo of CWebb and Spree had next (just ask Charles Barkley) along with Timmy Hardaway and Chris Mullin, the drama between a middle aged Nellie and a 20 year old smart and athletically gifted Rookie of the Year with an extremely bright future was painful, his triumphs and tragedies with his buddy Juwan Howard on the Washington Bullets/ Wizards left you wanting more, his glory years put the Sacramento Kings on the basketball map, that knee injury in the Western Conference Semifinals against the Mavericks in 2003 was just unfortunate, the Kings trading him to the 76ers was thankless and just a silly financial and oncourt move, his few seasons with Allen Iverson and the 76ers were just odd, his short run with the Pistons last season was solid, and what might have been a very intriguing late season and playoff run in 2008 with the Warriors looks to have ended prematurely just like his prime.

CWebb is a borderline hall of famer. Had the Kings beat the Lakers in the 2002 Western Conference Finals in which even Ralph Nader questioned the officiating (ask TZ over at Sactown Royalty about that one some time and I'm sure he'll break it down), it would probably be a much surer thing and he'd have a ring to sport. Webber and Vlade Divac formed the best passing big man tandem that we'll probably ever witness. He ran that Princeton offense to precision. The naysayers will only remember him for making "It's a Great Time Out" famous before the Warriors used it as a slogan to get people to shell out their hard earned dead presidents to watch the Bay Area's beloved pro hoops team (pro used lightly here) stink up the Oakland Arena during the apex of the "Unstoppable Baby!" Marc Jackson era pre-We Believe. But I'll remember him for being one of the highest hoops IQ players of the last 20 years. If he's committed to it, I could see Webber making a fantastic assistant coach and eventually head coach at the NBA level.

Anyhow, if Webber does make it to the hall of fame I'd love to see him go in as a Golden State Warrior. I know it'll never happen and I'm completely crazy to even suggest it, but it would make the best epilogue for the Chris Webber in the NBA saga. It would be a New York Times bestseller!

Things have come full circle and Chris Webber's (probably) retiring in the place where unstoppable things really should have gone down over the past 14 years. Funny how things work out some times. As a Warriors fan and hoops junkie I feel robbed. Why couldn't a fiery and often flat out mean Nellie just give this cocky kid some time to grow up back in 1994? Was Chris Cohan really trying to avoid paying Webber back in the day? Couldn't the hoops gods save CWebb from that knee injury in 2003 and now in 2008?

Reunited and it should have ended better.

CDubbz:

99% of rumors never happen and I hope this one doesn't!

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