When Chris Webber made the decision to enter the NBA draft in 1993, it marked the end of an important era of NCAA basketball history. Most importantly for fans, ended the Fab Five.
Looking to legitimately make money while playing basketball, Webber entered the league with a lot of hope and hype behind him. The decision to come out after his sophomore year seemed like the right choice as he was the #1 pick during the 1993 NBA Draft, the first time a sophomore was chosen first since Magic Johnson back in 1979. However, he would not team up with Shaq or play for Orlando as he was dealt to the Golden State Warriors for Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway and a number of picks.
So Webber started his NBA career as a Golden State Warrior under coach Don Nelson. He showed early on that he was ready for the NBA, showing off his vast skillset on a nightly basis. Sneakerfans were excited as it looked like Webber and Nike would continue their history from college into the NBA. But as much as people wanted to check out his sneakers and his game the media attention was more focused on a ugly and very public feud with his coach.
Nelson wanted to play quick and fast, with Webber often in the post and sometimes playing center. This wasn’t cool with the young man and their distaste for each other continued throughout the season. Webber became the first NBA rookie to attain 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 250 assists, 150 blocks, and 75 steals. With stats like that it was no surprise when he was named the 1993-1994 NBA Rookie of the Year, beating out guys like Penny.
However, the feud with his coach was beyond the point of control. And with a tarnished image and past history it seemed as though unless Nelson went, Webber wanted out. He exercised a one-year escape clause in his contract, which signified he was ready to leave the team. With its back to the wall, Golden State agreed to a sign-and-trade deal one month into his second season to the Washington Bullets. So even with the Rookie of the Year title in his trophy case, Webber had to rebuild his image and endorsements from scratch.