- The Washington Times - Friday, January 12, 2007

The immaturity and lack of discipline of Chris Webber trumped the talent.

That is his legacy.

His pathological bent to be a knucklehead inevitably led to bad endings in four NBA cities. It was as if he could not help himself. He could not see that he was the problem. It was not the coach, the system and the circumstances of the franchise. It was him.

He was always conflicted. He wanted to be a bad man, a product of the mean streets of Detroit, only he was out of hoity-toity Country Day and hardly a gangster.

Webber never could grasp that the art of cool comes to those who are comfortable with who they are instead of those straining to be something they are not.

Webber was not even a bad man near the end of a tight game. He was one of the softest 20-10 players ever. He was like Elvin Hayes in that regard, both inclined to fill their stat line in the first three quarters of a game before coming down with alligator arms and an ever-tightening esophagus.

At his best, Webber was a No. 2 guy masquerading as a franchise player. And coaches indulged him in the belief that age and experience eventually would compensate for his flaws. Theirs was a false belief.

Webber would land in a city as a basketball savior and leave with a series of unmet expectations and bad feelings.

The 76ers are a mess now, just as the Wizards once were after Abe Pollin grew tired of Webber’s problems with various law-enforcement agencies.

The Wizards made the mistake of ignoring Webber’s rift with Don Nelson, a player’s coach who somehow could not reach the enigmatic one.

No, it never turns out good with Webber, not even at Michigan, where he called the timeout his team didn’t have in the national championship game and was on the payroll of Ed Martin. He lied about the money spigot to a grand jury, just one of his many lies.

Webber has spent 13-plus seasons in the NBA mostly lying to himself, and now he is trying to foist one more lie on himself and his potential suitors. His is the lie that he has enough left to be an integral part of a championship-contending team.

This is the lie of a one-legged player reduced to taking set shots from the top of the key. His broken-down body has left him moving at the speed of a senior citizen, sometimes unable to keep up in an up-and-down affair.

That is why the 76ers elected to buy out his onerous contract and be done with him. He has little utility left, and he, of course, is too delusional to see it.

Webber pretends he is on the wish list of so many teams, not unlike the middle-aged Hollywood bimbo who believes she is still a fantasy figure.

Webber’s value now is as a lowly paid role player. Even if he is taken along on a championship ride, it won’t change the fundamental essence of his NBA service.

He was the serial screw-up who could have been somebody. His career could serve as a warning to the game’s newcomers packing grandiose dreams and attitude.

You do not become somebody special by scowling after dunking the ball in the first quarter. You become somebody special by making plays with the outcome of the game in doubt and by advancing to the heights of June.

LeBron James should keep this in mind before he unleashes his next ugly-face pose on a crowd.

Webber mentioned the Heat as one of his favored destinations, which makes sense. Pat Riley’s team has become the nursing home of the NBA.

Webber is chasing an illusory object now, for redemption left his sphere long ago.

He was too careless with his career, too misguided, and now it is just too late.

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