Chris Webber only played in 114 games for the Philadelphia 76ers, but that’s enough to get the hometown crowd in his corner. The 48-year-old was named a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Tuesday. He joins 14 other players and coaches.
The Class of 2021 will be named on May 16, according to an NBA press release, and includes 14 total finalists: Webber, Chris Bosh, Tim Hardaway, Rick Adelman, Paul Pierce, Michael Cooper, Bill Russell, Jay Wright, Yolanda Griffith, Lauren Jackson, Marianne Stanley, Leta Andrews, Marques Johnson, Ben Wallace. If you’re wondering why Russell’s name appears, it’s a legit question. The legendary Boston Celtics center is already in as a player and seeking to earn a spot in the Hall of Fame’s coaches’ wing.
Webber officially retired from the NBA in 2008 after chronic problems with his surgically-repaired knees. He played 17 professional seasons, including three in Philadelphia where he averaged 17.9 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists per game. He came over in a 2005 trade from the Sacramento Kings and helped lead the Sixers to the playoffs that year. Two years later, he was gone and agreed to a buyout on his $25 million contract.
So, yes, the Webber experiment didn’t end so well in Philly (blame Allen Iverson?) but Hall of Fame voters shouldn’t hold those iffy twilight years against him. Webber was a stud in his prime when he made five All-Star teams and led the entire league in rebounding in 1999. The 6-foot-9, 245-pound big man averaged 20.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.4 blocks for his career. Webber was the first overall pick in the 1993 draft and won Rookie of the Year honors. The Sacramento Kings retired his No. 4 on Feb. 6, 2009.
Jay Wright Representing Philadelphia, Too
Villanova head coach never coached the Sixers, although he has been linked to them on multiple occasions. The 59-year-old even felt the need to put out a statement last September that he wasn’t a candidate as rumors swelled before the team hired Doc Rivers to replace Brett Brown.
Now Wright is on the shortlist to join the Basketball Hall of Fame based on his collegiate credentials: two NCAA championships, three Final Fours, seven Big East titles, two Naismith College Coach of the Year awards. The Pennsylvania native lives in the Philadelphia area and keeps tabs on all the local teams. The city threw Villanova a parade when they won the national title in 2018.
“That means a lot to me. I love being a part of the Philadelphia sports scene,” Wright told SportsRadio 94WIP. “I love the Phillies, Sixers, Eagles, Flyers. That fact that we are apart of that, which I’m starting to understand, and that Philly takes some pride in it, I really like that.”
Sixers Trade Target Denies Rumors
Kyle Lowry is definitely on the trading block, or he’s definitely not on the trading block. It really depends on the day. (Editor’s note: Lowry actually played under Jay Wright at Villanova).
On Tuesday, the six-time All-Star guard for the Toronto Raptors decided he needed to clear the air on all the rumors. Lowry, a Philly native, sent out a message on Instagram saying that the “lies people tell in the media are amazing.”
Lowry has been most recently tied to a trade sending him to his hometown team. Steve Lipman of Liberty Ballers threw out a potential package of “a couple of the Sixers low-cost players, a first-round pick and Danny Green” to bring Lowry to Philly. The Sixers are expected to make a splash at the trade deadline on March 25.