Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Happy Hour 01/16: The Webber Presser

♦ Chris Webber's face went from smiling and youthful to aged and tortured in about five seconds. He had to expect some questions from the media about what happened at Michigan, and how he might deal with that upon his return to Detroit. But to ask for an apology - or expect one - is probably hoping for too much.

Did he dodge the question by saying today was about the Pistons? Did he sound like Mark McGwire when he said he didn't want to get into what happened 15 years ago? I certainly think so. Webber can't possibly be naive enough to think that people have forgotten about this. He could smooth over everything with a simple one-sentence mea culpa.

But such hard feelings might be limited to Ann Arbor, and not representative of the Detroit sports fan base as a whole. And ultimately, as Terry Foster pointed out in his blog today, Webber is a Detroiter, not necessarily a Michigan Wolverine. That's what he's coming home to.

♦ Having said all that, I wonder if Michigan basketball coach Tommy Amaker might be misreading the situation by saying he'd welcome Webber back to Crisler Arena. After all, quite a few banners had to come down because of the money that he and his contemporaries accepted. And of course, there's also that infamous time-out he called in the 1993 national championship game.

Sure, I understand why Amaker would want Webber stopping by practice, appearing at games, and maybe sitting behind the U-M bench. Young players who either remember C-Webb from his "Fab Five" days or know him from the NBA would take notice. That's a hell of a recruiting tool for a program in sore need of a draw.

And maybe Amaker looks at a half-empty Crisler Arena most nights, with a city and campus that doesn't seem to care much about his program, and questions whether or not it's worth placating some hard feelings in the area. In his eyes, maybe he doesn't believe people could even be bothered to express outrage at this point. So what is there to lose?

♦ If you're wondering why Webber made the bizarre choice of 84 for his uniform number (we know he wasn't getting #4), he explained during the presser that his six-year-old nephew saw him wearing #84 in a dream. And at the end of that dream, the Pistons won the game. So that's what's going on the back of his jersey.

And here I thought it might be a tribute to the '84 Tigers or former Lions receiver Herman Moore. Oh well.

(Thanks to Kevin Antcliff for the link. More on KA tomorrow, by the way.)

Sports Illustrated's Marty Burns isn't a fan of the Pistons signing Webber, largely because of his defensive shortcomings. Among the people he quotes in this article are a Western Conference scout who says "he's awful" and "can't play anymore," an anonymous Chicago Bull who thinks Detroit would be "crazy" to trade Antonio McDyess to make room for Webber, and various San Antonio Spurs who don't seem to care about the move.

♦ And finally, while looking up some stuff to possibly make a Thomas Wolfe (You Can't Go Home Again) reference, I was reminded that the main character in Wolfe's novel is named George Webber. Think about that when you close your eyes and try to fall asleep tonight.

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  • At January 17, 2007 11:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    a few thoughts...

    I blame UM just as much as anyone for the Ed Martin fiasco.

    No grudge against Webber here... The Fab Five years were worth it for me!

    I don't buy the 'he can't play anymore' line seeing how he averaged 20 and 10 last year playing a whole season.

    Will he push the Pistons over the top? closer, maybe, but I think the Pistons were/are further from the top than we want to believe...


  • At January 17, 2007 12:37 PM, Anonymous Evan said…

    Webber's an immediate help. He's not much worse than Mohammed defensively, and he's 100 times better offensively. Sheed can guard the big name centers like Yao, Duncan, or Shaq, and beyond that, his defensive shortcomings will rarely be more noticeable than Mohammed's are currently.

    He gives them a top-notch post passer who is fairly responsible with the ball and who can still put the damn thing in the bucket when needed.

    I also find it highly unlikely that McDyess is going anywhere. Teams with major salary cap burdens will be interested in a contract like Mohammed's, which if Dumars can offload, will save the team a lot of headache. Or alternatively, teams might find interest in little-used Dale Davis who is still a totally viable big body defender and decent post player.

    Dumars will heavily shop both of those players before McDyess is even considered, I'm sure.

    A big-man rotation of Webber, Wallace, McDyess, and energy minutes from Maxiell looks OK to me -- certainly better than it does now.

    With regards to the UM troubles... so what? As a UM alum and employee and longtime fan, I'm as embarassed by what happened as anyone, but you know what? I blame Webber less than I blame others. The reason UM football is so respected is that Bo, Moeller, and Lloyd have all run tight ships, but Steve Fischer was a lame ass coach who undoubtedly knew what was going on around him and who let it go on. If you're a broke college student looking at Miami football players and basketball players at other schools driving fancy cars and some alum offers you some untraceable cash, I can see a confused kid taking that. Should he have lied about it later? Probably not. But really, does it impact anything anymore? Not a lot. I'm not PLEASED with what he's chosen to say (or not say), but it's such an insignificant thing to me, I guess I'm not too concerned with it.

    As for his attitude, which some people have commented, I can only say that people had similar, if not more intense, concerns about Sheed when he showed up, and he helped win the team a championship and get them back to a second finals. They're not even in the position of being contenders for the past three years without him -- and oh yeah, his teammates seem to love him.

    Does that mean Webber will be the same? No. But an aging guy without a ring looking to play well in front of a home crowd, motivated by a friend in Sheed, a hometown idol in Joe D, and a group of veterans with rings like Chauncey and Rip might provide the right mix for him to succeed again.

    I don't see how this could possibly make them any worse, and it costs them practically nothing since Philly is really the one paying the major coin this year. This is a win for the Pistons for sure. If he fits this year, they can re-sign him again. If he does nothing or makes them worse, they've got to go shopping in the off-season, which they probably would have had to do anyhow considering Mohammed's lackluster play.

    I am ALL for it.

  • At January 17, 2007 12:45 PM, Blogger Kurt said…

    I, too, don't get the Webber hate. Rather than blame the university that enabled the coach that enabled the booster, they blame the 18 year old for accepting cash? What, U of M can do no wrong? I don't buy it. Webber was the end of the line that began with U of M. Look in the mirror first, Ann Arbor. That's where it starts.

    As for whether Webber helps the Pistons... that remains to be seen. We wondered if Dice's legs could hold up and Sheed's attitude could hold up. That worked out. There's no guarantee, but at least it's not an expensive investment to find out.


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