Today We Honor Chris Webber
The Zards travel to Philly tonight to take on the Philadelphia 76ers and one of my least favorite Wizards/Bullets of all-time, Chris Webber. I didn't always hate Webber. At one point during his stint as a Zard, I worshipped the ground that he walked on. 5000 18-foot jumpshots from the biggest man on the court and several brushes with the law later, I couldn't wait to see him tossed out the door (at least until I saw what we got in return... thanks again, Wes Unseld.)
So, in honor of today's match-up against the Sixers and C-Webb, I am going to countdown my five favorite and least favorite Wizards and Bullets.
5. Peter John Ramos: What's not to love about Party John?!?!
4. Tim Legler: Sure, Tim Legler deserves the #4 spot because he is the greatest 3-point shooter in Bullets/Wizards (Bullards?) history, as evidenced by his 52% marksmanship and All-Star 3-Point Championship in 1996. But the real reason he's up here is because I love the looks on peoples' faces when I wear my #23 Wizards jersey and they see the name "Legler" on the back. The highlight was the guy who pulled up next to me while honking repeatedly, rolled down the window, screamed "HEEEEY MI-CHAEL LEEEE-GLER!", and then peeled out. That was awesome.
3. Muggsy Bogues: The smaller half of the greatest draft class in Bullards history (ah screw it, IN NBA HISTORY), was one of the most entertaining players I've ever watched. I cried the day he left the Bullets. There was never a greater player in NBA history for a 7-year-old fan to relate to.
2. Gilbert Arenas: There are three major reasons to love Gilbert Arenas: 1) He's the greatest player in the game under 25 that's not named Lebron (Screw you Dwyane "Hypefest" Wade. This deserves it's own column.), 2) He once covered a jelly donut in baby powder, said it was powdered sugar, and convinced Troy Murphy to eat it, 3) He bought 2 extra treadmills so his pitbulls can jog next to him when he's on his treadmill. FYI, I am willing to pay for video of this, if anyone can obtain it.
1. Gheorghe Muresan: Screw Manute Bol, Muresan could actually play. People always forget that in 1996, Gheorghe's 3rd NBA season, he was developing into an All-Star caliber center. He averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, and shot 58% from the floor, in just 29 minutes per game. Unfortunately, his freak-show body couldn't hold itself together, and he faded out of the league soon thereafter. Then again, that same body garnered him a starring role in My Giant, which destroys Mitchell Butler's cameo in Blue Chips for the best appearance in a movie by a Washington Bullard. On a side note, has anyone else noticed Gheorghe sitting behind the Wizards bench during most home games this season? Is he officially linked to the team in any way? Or does he just have a passion for the franchise? If you have an answer for me, post it in the comments.
Honorable Mention: Ledell Eackles (I never knew who he was or where he came from, but you gotta love fat 2-guards named Ledell with finesse games.), Mitchell Butler (2 reasons: 1) Blue Chips, 2) His random reappearance in 2004 after an 8-year hiatus) , Manute Bol (That picture with Muggsy is simply amazing.), Rex Chapman (Damn that white boy could jump. Especially compared to some of the other white guys Wes Unseld and Jim Lynam threw out there with him in 1994 and 1995. Scott Skiles, Brent Price, Don MacLean, Tom Gugliotta, Jim McIlvaine, and Gheorge Muresan weren't competing in any dunk contests, that's for sure.)
5. Pervis Ellison: "Never Nervous" Pervis was supposed to compete with Patrick Ewing. Unfortunately, the best battle Pervis ever had with another NBA center was late in his career when he tried to grow out better dreadlocks than fellow ancient stiff Sam Perkins.
4. Ike Austin: We traded Ben Wallace for Ike Austin. He was going to be our new centerpiece for years to come. Instead, he ate alot of donuts.
3. Mitch Richmond / Otis Thorpe: I was excited when I saw that we got All-Stars in return for Chris Webber. I got nervous when I checked their profiles and noticed how old they were. I cried when the season started and I realized that we had actually traded for Richmond and Thorpe's corpses.
2. Chris Webber: I've never seen a guy that big, that strong, and that unstoppable in the post, avoid the low-block like he was allergic to it. If you watched 10 plays of a typical game for Chris Webber as a Wizard, it generally looked like this...
1: Webber gets the ball on the block. Drop step, baby hook, money.
2: Webber gets an offensive rebound, viciously stuffs it over 3 opposing big men.
3: Webber gets defensive rebound, ignores our PG, dribbles the length of the court, goes behind the back 3 times, flings a no-look pass off the back of Gheorge Muresan's head.
4: Webber floats around the top of the key until he finally gets the ball. Pump fakes 4 times. Shoots (and usually misses) 18-foot jumper.
5, 6, 7, 8, 9: Ditto.
10. Offensive rebound and dunk again, just to remind you that he can do it.
C-Webb was a very good NBA player for a very long time, but I will always hate him because he could have been one of the most dominant post players of all-time, and it should have been in a Wizards uniform.
1. Wes Unseld (and guilty by association, Abe Pollin): Wes brought the team it's last championship (in 19-freaking-78), and for that Abe Pollin constantly forgave Wes as he repeatedly smashed the Bullards franchise with a sledgehammer over a span of 20 years as Head Coach, General Manager, and/or Chief Demolition Officer. I don't even know where to begin when describing what this man did to my team. Webber for Richmond & Thorpe? Rasheed Wallace for Rod Strickland? Ben Wallace for Ike Austin? I mean, at one my point we had Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Ben Wallace, and Rasheed Wallace. Sweet mercy! And Wes turned that into Rod Strickland, Ike Austin, Mitch Richmond, Otis Thorpe, and a 7 year / $105 mil contract for Juwan. I'm gonna start freaking out if I keep writing about this, so I'm ending this one here. I'm sorry I can't expound further.
Honorable Mention: Kevin Duckworth (Fat. Bad.), John "Hot Plate" Williams (Fatter. Badder.), Juwan Howard ($105 for 7), Michael Adams (what a gunner, good god), Tom Hammonds (so hyped, such a stiff), Rod Strickland (for Rasheed??? WHY???)
Wow, what a depressing list. Focus on Gilbert... focus on Gilbert...
-- UPDATE --
Several people have asked me if I forgot about Kwame. The somewhat surprising answer is that I don't actually hate Kwame. This may be a unique opinion of him among Wizards fans, but I just feel sorry for the guy. The best kept secret among all the people out there who booed Kwame, belittled him for lack of effort, etc... is that the guy just can't play. He has terrible hands, bad instincts, no feel on his jumper or his short game (hooks, tip-ins, and such). Yea, he has a sculpted 7-foot body and cat-like quickness, but his body hides the fact that he stinks at basketball. The blame in all this shouldn't fall on Kwame, he is who he is. The blame belongs to Michael Jordan's horrible judgment of Kwame's talent, and the subsequent pressure of going #1 was too much for an emotionally immature teenager who just couldn't play at that level and never will. (And for the record, I thought about putting MJ up there on the "Least Favorite" list, but in the end, I prefer to just pretend like the MJ Era never really happened. The ill-fated MJ experiment was a "no harm, no foul" situation as far as I'm concerned, since Abe realized it had turned into a circus and righted the ship by bringing in Ernie Grunfeld.)