Jed Jacobsohn / Staff

Chris Webber should be in the Hall of Fame

April 08, 2019 - 12:42 pm

Late Friday night, word came out about the 2019 Hall of Fame finalists. Once again, Chris Webber’s name was inexplicably missing from that list. Here’s a quick overview of Webber’s credentials, just to illustrate how ridiculous it is that he’s not in yet.

 

For his career, Chris Webber accumulated over 17,000 points, 8,000 rebounds, and 3,500 assists. He’s one of 14 players to ever produce those numbers. Who were the other 13? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Karl Malone, LeBron James, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett, Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Pau Gasol, Jason Kidd, John Havlicek, and Elgin Baylor. That’s 8 Hall of Famers, 4 future first-ballot Hall of Famers, and Pau Gasol, who will almost certainly be a Hall of Famer.

 

That’s a macro view of his statistical accomplishments. If you look at his peak, he averaged 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists per game in five different seasons. The other people to average those numbers in five or more seasons? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kevin Garnett, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, and Larry Bird. That’s some pretty good company!

 

With that said, his case is more than just statistical. Let’s take a look at two achievements that are closely tied to the greatness of a player: All-NBA appearances and MVP finishes (since not every Hall of Famer outright wins the MVP, we’ll look at how often some of them came to winning it). Both these things indicate how well a player stacks up with the best of the best. To do that, let’s look at a list of some of the inductees that have gone into the Hall of Fame in the past eight years and see how they compare to Webber:

 

Ray Allen- 2x All-NBA, 1 top 10 MVP finish

Yao Ming- 5x All-NBA, 0 top 10 MVP finishes

Jo Jo White- 2x All-NBA, 0 top 10 MVP finishes

Alonzo Mourning- 2x All-NBA, 2 top 10 MVP finishes

Richie Guerin- 3x All-NBA, 1 top 10 MVP finish

Chris Mullin- 4x All-NBA, 1 top 10 MVP finish

Mitch Richmond- 5x All-NBA, 0 top 10 MVP finishes

Chris Webber- 5x All-NBA, 5 top 10 MVP finishes

 

None of these guys have more All-NBA appearances than Webber and none even came close to him for top 10 finishes in MVP voting. Webber had five top 10 finishes. The other seven guys had five COMBINED. Seven guys didn’t have more top 10 MVP seasons as a group than Webber had alone! And he’s the one not in the Hall of Fame?

 

Not only did he surpass those guys in recognition, he passes them with common sense. Chris Webber was the best player on a true title contender. None of those guys were ever the best player on a true title contender. With exception of Jo Jo White, none of those guys were even the second best player on a true title contender. Chris Webber was the best player on a team that almost eliminated Kobe and Shaq. Here’s how insane that is: the year prior, the Lakers went 15-1 in the playoffs. That was the best playoff record ever, until the Warriors went 16-1 in 2017. But you know what the Lakers did that Golden State didn’t do? Swept three 50-win teams! Everyone thinks 2017 was unprecedented. The Warriors swept a .500 Blazers team and a Spurs team without Kawhi Leonard. The Lakers swept three 50-win teams! And in 2002, the Lakers went into the Western Conference Finals with a record of 7-1.

 

What’s the point of all this Lakers talk? To illustrate just how monumental it was that the Kings went toe-to-toe with them, let alone almost beat them! From 2001 until facing the Kings in 2002, the Lakers were 22-2 in the playoffs. The Lakers lost more games to the Kings in one series than they lost in the previous six rounds combined! And who was the leader of that? Chris Webber! He had strong support from Mike Bibby, and the Kings were a very deep team, but Webber was the driver of their success.

 

In the 13 years before Chris Webber showed up, Sacramento had never had a winning season and had been to the playoffs twice. Webber showed up and the franchise immediately had recurring winning seasons and playoff appearances. Before coming to Sacramento, Webber was in Washington. When he arrived there, Washington hadn’t been to the playoffs in six years. Two years after C-Webb showed up, they were in the playoffs. The following year they missed the playoffs by one game. The next year he went to Sacramento and Washington wouldn’t make the playoffs for another six years. That’s right. Washington’s only playoff appearance in a 16-year stretch was with Chris Webber. And before going to Washington, Webber was in Golden State for a season. The year before Webber, the Warriors were led by Chris Mullin, Tim Hardaway, and Latrell Sprewell. They went 34-48 and missed the playoffs. The following year Hardaway was out for the whole year, due to injury, but they got Webber and went 50-32 and made the playoffs. The next year is when Webber went to Washington and it was back to Hardaway, Sprewell, and partially Mullin (who missed the majority of the season) and they went 26-56 and missed the playoffs. The Warriors wouldn’t make the playoffs for 12 more years.

 

Chris Webber made objective differences in multiple franchises. Franchises whose success was primarily and almost exclusively tied to his presence. For a concise picture, just examine each franchise from 1993-2003 (Webber’s emergence into the league until his knee injury):

Golden State: Went to the playoffs 1/1 times with him, 0/9 times without him

Washington: Went to the playoffs 1/4 times with him, 0/6 times without him

Sacramento: Went to the playoffs 5/5 times with him, 1/5 times without him


Look at that! Those three teams made the playoffs 7 out of 10 seasons with him and 1 out of 20 seasons without him! How on earth is this guy not in the Hall of Fame?

 

Let’s be real, there’s one potential reason and one reason only, and it has nothing to do with his ability or accomplishments: the Michigan scandal. The selective punishment of scandals in sports is curious at best and downright absurd at worst. Even if you don’t believe corruption in the NCAA is common, Webber’s situation is not an isolated, unprecedented case. If Webber’s scandal is so worthy of Hall of Fame exclusion, then why is Jim Boeheim in the Hall of Fame? Webber was one part of one scandal, while “The NCAA singled out men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim for failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance over 10 years.

 

If Webber’s scandal can prevent him from getting to the Hall of Fame, then why didn’t Jim Boeheim’s get him kicked out of the Hall of Fame? Being a part of 113 wins being vacated is expulsion, but being a part of 101 wins being vacated is fine? Are we operating on a 110 win-vacation limit or something? One bit player of a scandal is ostracized, but the man in charge of decade of malfeasance rests comfortably in Springfield? Quick question, which scandal is a bigger contributor to corruption: one player taking money or a coach overseeing a decade of violations?

 

Did Chris Webber take money and commit perjury by lying about it? Yes. Was that wrong? Yes. But is that an egregious error worthy of eternal damnation? I don't think so. It seems more like a player poorly navigating a rather laughably corrupt system that only pretends to be completely ethical. Stop this charade of pretending that if you punish Webber then that means everything else is above scrutiny or something. Stop acting like Chris Webber ruined the sanctity of the NCAA. Punishing him doesn’t mean you stand against corruption. It only means you pretend to. If you want to fight corruption, go after the real players aka the ones that don’t wear jerseys.

 

Chris Webber is one of the best players of all-time. His numbers, accomplishments, and contributions are indisputably worthy of the Hall of Fame. Don't punish him as if he commited this heinous crime and it's the only one of its nature ever committed. News flash, no one thinks the NCAA is free of corruption. Not honoring Chris Webber doesn't make us think the NCAA is honorable. Let's not take as long to honor Chris Webber as it took the Academy Awards to honor Spike Lee and do the right thing! Put Chris Webber in the Hall of Fame!

 

-Jared Day

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