NEW ORLEANS – Chris Webber hopes to add another chapter to his memorable, yet sometimes troubled, basketball career.
The former high school standout at Birmingham Detroit Country Day, who achieved college stardom at Michigan and played 15 NBA seasons, was named a finalist Saturday for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“It was an honor to hear my name,” said Webber, who attended the ceremony at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. “There’s no guarantee that you’ll make it in from this point, but sitting here right now, I’m just really thankful.”
Former NBA point guard and current Pistons assistant coach Tim Hardaway, former Michigan star Rudy Tomjanovich (Hamtramck) and former NBA scoring champion Tracy McGrady, who played one season with the Pistons, were among the other finalists.
The 2017 class will be announced April 3 in Phoenix before the NCAA men’s basketball national championship game.
Webber, part of the Michigan “Fab Five,” led the Wolverines to consecutive NCAA championship games and was the top pick in the 1993 NBA draft. The five-time NBA All-Star is best remembered for his years with the Sacramento Kings.
Webber’s high school and college legacies, however, were tarnished when he pleaded guilty to criminal contempt in 2002 in connection to the Michigan booster scandal involving Ed Martin, who allegedly gave Webber illicit loans beginning in eighth grade.
Michigan forfeited victories from Webber’s two years in Ann Arbor, and removed its 1992 and 1993 Final Four banners from Crisler Center. The university was barred from associating with Webber until 2013.
Despite his conviction, Country Day refused to forfeit wins during Webber’s career, which included three Michigan High School Athletic Association state championships. The MHSAA said at the time that it had no legal authority to force the school to forfeit games.
“I don’t regret anything,” Webber said of his high school and college careers. “I’m thankful that God has allowed me to be here today.”
Although a rift remains between Webber and his former college, and also some of his Michigan teammates, he prefers to focus on the positive memories.
“I went to two Final Fours, was Freshman of the Year (and) led the (Big Ten) in rebounding as a freshman,” Webber said. “I left my mark in the college game, and I’m definitely happy about that. Hopefully, my friends are enjoying this moment … it’s because of all my teammates, as well.”
Webber, who played 43 games for the Pistons in 2006-07, became a basketball analyst after retiring and will help call Sunday’s NBA All-Star Game for TNT.
Other Hall of Fame finalists are: NBA referee Hugh Evans, all-time winningest high school boys basketball coach Robert Hughes, former AP Female Athlete of the Year Rebecca Lobo, former Villanova coach Rollie Massimino, Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw, two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Sidney Moncrief, Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey, Kansas coach Bill Self, former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan and 10-time AAU national champions Wayland Baptist University.