College basketball legend and NBA All-Star Chris Webber has grown accustomed to analyzing the play of LeBron James, Kevin Durant and countless other all-world talents.
Well, this year, Webber will get a chance to analyze college players, as he’ll be calling several NCAA Tournament games.
“(During) the games, I get excited,” Webber admitted on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I’m a hooper. I feel like we should be on the floor right now. Why are we talking in golf voices? Let’s have fun. But working with Marv Albert, Dick Stockton and Ian Eagle and all these guys, they’ve helped me so much (to) channel my energy.
“I put in on them,” Webber said jokingly. “If I make a mistake, it’s their fault – because they’re so good that they should know how to keep their rookies in line. But yeah, I’m excited.”
Webber, of course, was a member of Michigan’s “Fab Five,” arguably the most iconic team in college basketball history. Webber, 42, said it’s his job to “relay the experience of the athlete to the fan at home.”
“I was one of the best college players for two years, and then I made one of the biggest mistakes in college,” Webber said, referring to his infamous timeout call in the final seconds of the 1993 national championship game against North Carolina. “So to be able to tell what the mother is whispering in her kid’s ear when she hugs him, or the finality of a senior that’s played his whole life for this one university and this is the end – he’s actually going to have to do something else – hopefully I can just explain the passion, the feelings, what these guys are going through, the emotion, and also (bring) the game to life, like (commentators) used to do for me.”
Webber was asked if he still thinks about the infamous timeout and how it’s changed his life – in good ways and in bad.
“All the time,” Webber said. “That’s why the documentaries and things that people have done on me, I haven’t (participated) because they don’t tell the context. I go into neighborhoods with kids that don’t have families or money, and I say, ‘I called a timeout and I went through this. It’s the worst thing that happened to me.’ And they look at me like, ‘What are you talking about?’ Then I talk to them about the steps after you make a mistake how to come out, how to to refocus – all the things that you can do to become better. In college, I was 19 years old, you know what I mean? That made be a better person. I take ownership. What else can you do? That’s life. Get over it. Let’s keep it moving.”
Webber obviously loves watching college basketball, but he thinks there need to be some changes in the game.
“There are always rules you can change, whether it’s NBA or college,” he said. “I think the international game is surpassing our college game, and I think we need to adapt that with rule changes. The shot clock, it shouldn’t be that slow. It just shouldn’t be. Hopefully . . . we speed that up.”
Webber played two years at Michigan before entering the NBA draft. He was asked for the most important thing that college players wanting to leave early for the pros need to know.
“That they never played against anybody,” Webber said. “You look at it now, the sample size is terrible. When I came out of college, I think I was the first sophomore since ’79. I didn’t even want to go because I was scared of what the next level was like. I think right now it’s, can you police yourself and discipline yourself? Can you wait an extra year to gain some muscle? “The toughest thing coming into the league is strength. I remember Terry Cummings grabbed me and I’m like, ‘Whoa, this is something different.’ Terry Cummings was a beast. I came down the lane, he grabbed me out of the air, placed me down and said, ‘If you do that again, you’ll regret it.’ I said okay. So 20 years later, I never did that again to Terry Cummings.”