Sacramento King’s power forward Chris Webber is leaving California’s capital for good.
Don’t ask Laker center Shaquille O’Neal about Webber’s status. Just look at the way the former Michigan heartthrob looked with vague eyes into the isolated rafters of Arco Arena after Los Angeles took out the brooms, toying with the fiery Kings in the final minutes of game four in the western conference semifinals. That one final look around the arena says it all.
Webber and his 27.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.69 blocks and 1.33 steals; his agile two-step drop move to a thunderous dunk; his charismatic smile and laid-back personality will soon leave Sacramento.
Yet I don’t think he’s thrilled with leaving for another city, considering how affectionate the fans have been towards him. He knows he must leave to prepare himself for the next stage of his evolution as a basketball player: the championship-caliber performer who shines on the biggest stage of all.
And that means he has to depart to a bustling city in the Midwest, where he grew up, or to some city in the East.
Los Angeles would be nice, but there’s no way Pacific Division rivals buddy up to plot a sign-and-trade deal. Webber would be like a godfather to the Clippers, but there are too many forwards on the Clips’ roster already, and the Lakes cast a big enough shadow as it is.
What about the East Coast? New York is on everybody’s minds, yet the Knicks’ cap woes, turbulent roster shuffling and underproductivity from washed-up all-stars doesn’t bode well for the Big Apple with the worm slithering through the core. Plus, I wouldn’t want Jeff Van Gundy, who’s better suited tuning the organ in Dracula’s crib, to coach me. New York is a nice city to end your career in. Just ask Patrick Ewing.
I have no problem with Boston. Paul Pierce is one the most refreshing players in the NBA, but the Celtics are about as inspiring as cowlick. Charlotte’s turquoise threads are better suited for the Easter Bunny; Philadelphia has Allen Iverson; Jersey is like purgatory without sanitation. Miami and Orlando have a nice ring to them, but what professional athlete wants to deal with Pat Riley’s pesterings, and how many touches will Webber get in Orlando with Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady, Mike Miller and Darrell Armstrong lighting it up?
The Midwest? Milwaukee is a rural slum with factories. Detroit might be a possibility considering Webber grew up there and played ball at Michigan, but the city is simply miserable; Webber knows that. Cleveland is “The Mistake By The Lake:” You go there to die if you’ve done something bad, or if you’ve done something stupid enough like move there.
So guess what city is left?
The greatest city in North America. Webber wants a nightlife, he’ll get it and more. There’s the Pier, Michigan Avenue, Flukey’s Hot Dogs, Wrigley Field and a basketball team that will improve drastically if he comes. There is life in Chicago, like nowhere else.
Sure, there are downsides, like evil elves named Jerry: Krause and Reinsdorf, who are trying to run the Bulls into the ground. But like all phantasms, they go away when somebody exorcises them. Plus, Chicago is the greatest sports city of all time, and no two Jerrys can alter that. The Bulls will build around Webber, and in two years, another championship rafter will rise in the United Center and you’ll have your ring.
Webber: Listen to this if you want to fulfill dreams at all: Payton, Jordan, Hull, Banks, Sayers, Sosa, Minoso. The names roll off the tongue like butter. Add your name to the end of that list. Doesn’t that sound good?