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  #1  
Old 04-02-04, 03:22 PM
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The growing boos from Kings fans at Chris Webber could end up driving him out of Sacr

From prince to the pauper

By Scott Howard-Cooper
Special to ESPN.com


At least their fans aren't soft.


Rolling out the red carpet and holding the door open only goes for the Sacramento defense now, a Kings problem that has existed all season but reaches a critical stage as the playoffs approach and opponents continue to run layup lines down the lane. It's everyone else that has become demanding.


Chris Webber is getting booed inside Arco Arena, and that's a story.


It's a story because that doesn't happen in Sacramento. The Lakers, the referees -- they're on their own. But to be a King is to be beloved. Scrubs at the end of the bench get commercial endorsement deals. Tony Delk still gets cheered when he comes back, all these teams later. Jon Barry. Corliss Williamson. Terry Porter just got a nice ovation when he came back as coach of the Milwaukee Bucks, after spending all of one season as a Rick Adelman assistant. It's about being part of the city.


It's a story because it is Chris Webber, a team captain and a pick for one of the three All-NBA teams each of the previous five seasons. Before the knee injury that knocked him out of the second round of the playoffs last season and the first 50 games of 2003-04, he was the Kings' best player. When he was about to become a free agent, fans serenaded him with Jackson Browne to staaaaaaay, just a little bit lonnnnnger. When he did re-sign, they packed a downtown plaza to celebrate.


But now the boos have happened twice and now Webber is unsure about his future in Sacramento. He wants to stay, a lot longer. He is planning an addition to his home. He loves being part of the Kings, in atmosphere and style of play. He just has no interest in spending the rest of his career in a love-hate relationship with fans and will consider asking for a trade at the end of the season if the scorn continues.


Webber has played seven home games since returning from the knee injury and the eight-game suspension from the NBA that followed and been booed twice. Certainly not by everyone -- the harsh treatment sparked such a debate that soon talk shows were flooded by calls of fans chastising fans, a spin-off of the original issue of his play. Some faithful wanted to write Webber to let him know they weren't among the critical and that he was still appreciated.


But the boos were obvious and loud. So loud that after going back downcourt after making a basket, he shouted curses back at the stands, even if they were drowned out by cheers and couldn't be heard in the first row. So obvious that, despite saying all the right things in the aftermath, he is hurt.


Webber won't talk about the potential implications, saying he wants to avoid distractions and stay focused on the season ahead, but it is known that he's suddenly debating whether Arco is the place to finish his career. He has already hinted that the early feedback is creating a chasm on his side as well, telling a group of reporters after the latest incident that "It definitely changes my focus, my outlook." It was left at that.


Pressed later, he would not expand. He did acknowledge, when asked about the responses to his occasional early struggles, that "I'm very disappointed. And I'm shocked."


Because he feels betrayed by the same fans that once strongly backed him?


"I feel more disappointed," Webber said. "It actually hurts. It's more than betrayed."


It's also deeper. People close to Webber said he has already vented to some friends and family members about not wanting to continue to have to sing for his supper every night, not knowing how he will be received each game. That would become too draining and a great distraction.


There so far have been no conversations with management about his future, and it wouldn't matter anyway. The trade deadline passed Feb. 19. But people close to Webber caution he could be pushed away or at least moved to ask for a trade if the relationship with fans remains in the same state of tension that has developed this month. The option is prominent enough, insiders note, that Webber has already considered addressing the issue with owners Joe and Gavin Maloof or president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie in the summer.

What happens from there is impossible to gauge, months away from taking place and maybe not at all, and even then dependent on the variables of how the playoffs finish and the health of Webber's left knee. That comes with the biggest unknown of what happens the rest of 2003-04.


The expectations of a contract worth $122.7 million over seven seasons, a series of Webber injuries and playoff letdowns, and the league's eight-game suspension in February (for violating the anti-drug policy and pleading guilty to one count of criminal contempt of court) strained the union. When he finally returned to action this season, after missing 58 games, it was to overwhelming cheers. He responded with three impressive outings.


The next home game, on March 9, Webber missed 19 of 21 shots and was booed. He went into the March 21 game against Houston averaging 18.7 points, nine rebounds and 4.5 assists, solid numbers for anyone and very encouraging for someone coming off a serious knee injury, while shooting just 44.3 percent. That night, Webber got booed again while making just four of 18 attempts.


He could have handled a negative response in the first game, if Sacramento had voiced its collective displeasure at his off-court decisions that led to the suspension. He would have taken that hit and understood he had it coming. But it never happened. It was only during bad games.


What got Webber was fans turning on him so quickly while coming back from a major injury. In the three appearances before getting booed March 9 against Golden State, he had averaged 24 points and nine rebounds and shot 50.9 percent. Two days before facing the same treatment against the Rockets, he contributed 24 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists as the Kings beat the Eastern Conference-leading Pacers on the road.

It has been a culmination. Fans are greatly frustrated by his reliance on a perimeter game, but it's the same shot selection he's always had and no one booed when he was at 48 percent or better in four of the first five seasons as a King or as he averaged at least 20 points each campaign. They see the offense is not as fluid as when he was on the sideline, which is true. Just as blame falls to teammates for standing around watching him more. And oh, by the way, Sacramento doesn't win the championship without Webber so there's something to be said for making the investment now to work him back in.


"You may want to sacrifice a little now to gain a whole lot later," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said.


Every game has been a struggle on defense, where the slow recovery from Webber's knee injury is really exposed, but the Kings were a sieve months before he ever showed. The rebounding has been inconsistent, from impressive production to getting embarrassed by not boxing out the quicker Kwame Brown and getting beaten to missed Washington free throws in the most recent home game.


At least he didn't get booed that night, and it has become so strange in Sacramento that it gets noted if a King gets complete support or not. It was a first step to the future, or to the past.

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Would you guys do this to a Spur???
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  #2  
Old 04-02-04, 03:27 PM
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send Rasho, Horry and Ward. Webber will be an upgrade over Rasho. Sac receives a center to replace an old Divac and two contracts that they can end to get some free space.
Webber comes to a team that plays the championship every year and he wouldn't have to be the leader of the team, role that he hates.
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Old 04-02-04, 03:31 PM
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Horry in a Kings uniform might cause civil unrest in Arco
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Old 04-02-04, 03:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by losman
Horry in a Kings uniform might cause civil unrest in Arco
that's why I was saying the Kings would just let him walk, next year is a team option for Horry's contract
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Old 04-02-04, 03:35 PM
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I'd rather have Rasho.
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Old 04-02-04, 04:08 PM
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Noooo Webber here...

I want Horry and Rasho here too...
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Old 04-02-04, 04:19 PM
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we don't need another pf when we have the best pf in the league.
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Old 04-02-04, 04:33 PM
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boooooooo
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  #9  
Old 04-02-04, 04:51 PM
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Why is do the Kings draw so much national attention? They've only made it as far as the WCF one time since they've been in Sac.... Why is everyone so interested in these guys?
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Old 04-02-04, 05:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buzzsaw
Why is do the Kings draw so much national attention? They've only made it as far as the WCF one time since they've been in Sac.... Why is everyone so interested in these guys?
Because they're the Lakers' rivals.
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Old 04-02-04, 05:07 PM
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Webber at the PF position and Duncan at the center one would be a better combo than Duncan and Rasho.
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Old 04-02-04, 05:49 PM
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If I'm Sacto, I see what I can get for the guy. Probably not any beef, which is a problem.
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Old 04-02-04, 06:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frenchfred
send Rasho, Horry and Ward. Webber will be an upgrade over Rasho. Sac receives a center to replace an old Divac and two contracts that they can end to get some free space.
Webber comes to a team that plays the championship every year and he wouldn't have to be the leader of the team, role that he hates.
I don't think the salaries match. Webber is earning a TON of money.
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Old 04-02-04, 06:38 PM
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you're right next year he will make 17 millions compare to 14 this year.
Horry+Rasho+Ward would be 12.6 millions.
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Old 04-02-04, 06:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frenchfred
Webber at the PF position and Duncan at the center one would be a better combo than Duncan and Rasho.
Not when TD has to cover Shaq, Yao, et al.
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Old 04-02-04, 07:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coyotefan
Not when TD has to cover Shaq, Yao, et al.
well on the other hand Shaq and Yao would be in foul trouble defending Tim, that would leave Webber on the floor, that's better than Rasho.
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Old 04-02-04, 07:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frenchfred
well on the other hand Shaq and Yao would be in foul trouble defending Tim, that would leave Webber on the floor, that's better than Rasho.
If my memory is right, TD prefer to play PF instead of C.
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Old 04-02-04, 07:11 PM
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If you have Duncan and Webber making what they make, it doesn't seem like it leaves a lot left.
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Old 04-02-04, 07:23 PM
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Perhaps we could persuade Rasheed to came to SA as a free agent, without giving up valuable players like Rasho and Horry. Few teams could give him more money. After all, Kobe, as Kidd, is a long shot. Rasheed's as problematic as Webber, and he's not injury prone, and plays better defense. Teams like the Knicks could offer Kings a better deal for Webber.
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Old 04-02-04, 07:36 PM
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I liked Webber when he had a the cahnce to come here a couple years ago when he was a FA.....

But honestly the guy is wlays hurt, he has never been happy with any team he has been with, he has not shown he can carry a team further then a round or two.....He has had great players in Sac and has not got passed the Lakers......

I will pass on CWEBB....

He is passed his prime....
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Old 04-02-04, 07:55 PM
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Number of games missed in the last 5 years:

Rasho: 15

Webber: 121

And at long last, give up on Sheed. Never coming here.
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Old 04-02-04, 07:57 PM
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Fair point....but please do not even put Rasho on the same sentence when they are both on the floor playing there game....
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  #23  
Old 04-02-04, 07:59 PM
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That's the point.

Rasho plays, Webber doesn't.
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  #24  
Old 04-02-04, 08:10 PM
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I just realized that with this article I gave the impression that I wanted him in SA.

C-Webb misses too many games and he's already been in trouble with the law.

Rasho all the way!
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  #25  
Old 04-02-04, 10:29 PM
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To sign Sheed the Spurs would have to let Manu and Mike walk, giving them a horrible backcourt.
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