Chris Webber and Coach Don Nelson seemed like a brilliant fit. The Michigan product was supposed to be the franchise centerpiece that the Golden State Warriors had been desperate to find after trading away Robert Parrish and the pick that became Kevin McHale for another pick wasted on Joe Barry Carroll.
Webber seemed like the last piece in a puzzle that would create a contender. The Warriors roster was already equipped with Tim Hardaway, All-Star Latrell Sprewell and future Hall of Famer Chris Mullin. The roster was filled out with the likes of Avery Johnson, Billy Owens, Victor Alexander, and the seldom used Dell Demps.
Nelson wanted to play an up-tempo style of basketball, one that involved a high-flying pre-Phoenix Suns run-and-gun offense. They were second in Pace factor, a statistic that measures the number of possessions per 48 minutes and second in points per game. Webber was set-up to be one of the early small-ball centers in NBA history.
In his lone season in Golden State, Webber averaged 17.5 points per game, 9.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists while shooting 55 percent from the field. Webber struggled to co-exist with Nelson which led to his eventual departure.
Ric Bucher, now a full-time Warriors reporter in the Bay Area once wrote about that even before Warriors signed Webber to a contract that had an opt-out clause after one season in it, Nelson informed Webber that he wanted him to play down low rather then at the high post or on the perimeter. Spurs current head coach Greg Poppovich once recalled Webber saying he wanted to be like Magic Johnson and not Karl Malone.
Webber was shipped away to the then Washington Bullets for Tom Gugliotta and the rights to three draft picks in the same three years they had originally trade their picks away to acquire Chris Webber. To make matters work Gugliotta was shipped away shortly after for Donyell Marshal straight up. Yes, the guy they received for Chris Webber was traded for Donyell Marhsall straight up.
Warriors fans will remember that the man who brought them so much joy in the 1993-94 season eventually led to anguish and frustration. Without the collegiate superstar on the roster, the Warriors hit rock bottom by failing to win more than 21 games in a season from 1997-2002.
Not only did Webber departing the Warriors hurt the Warriors but also hurt the Bullets. Webber only wanted to go the Bullets because his collegiate teammate and friend Juwan Howard was on the team and C-Webb wanted to play with him. With Webber on the Bullets, the Bullets went 26-56 which was the third worst record in the league in the 1994-5 season.
If only Webber had stayed as a Warrior, the Warriors and Bullets would be very different and who knows maybe Webber would have had a ring alongside Hardaway under the leadership of Nelson.