Rolling Out

Acknowledged for his business moves, Chris Webber pays tribute to NBA legend

Culture shifter details latest moves

Chris Webber is incredibly self-aware when it comes to his life.

He understands he’s a culture staple as a member of Michigan’s Fab Five with black socks and shaved heads. He understands he’s one of the best power forwards who peaked in the early 2000s. He’s put all of that self-awareness in his new book, Chris Webber By God’s Grace, which is available on his website. Understanding how great he is, however, is only one part of his awareness, as he also acknowledges the legends who paved the path before him.

Webber received a surprise video message from NBA legend Spencer Haywood, who congratulated Webber for all his post-playing accomplishments, including receiving the Beacon of Industry Award from the Black Entertainment and Sports Lawyers Association on April 5 at the organization’s mid-year conference in Atlanta.

“There would be no Kobe Bryant, no KG, no LeBron James if it were not for Spencer Haywood,” Webber said.

Spencer Haywood became a pro basketball player in 1969 after his sophomore season at the University of Detroit. Back then, the NBA and ABA had a rule players could only become professionals four years removed from high school. In 1969, the ABA made an exemption for Haywood on hardships because his mother raised 10 children and she only made $2 a day picking cotton. After averaging 30 points and 19.5 rebounds per game in the ABA, Hayward went to the NBA and the Seattle Supersonics the next year. 

Because of his fight against the league decades earlier, Haywood paved the way for future NBA superstars like Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and LeBron James to go straight from high school to the league.

Webber said, “Lately, it’s been like reintroducing him back into our culture, so it means a lot to [play the video of Haywood saluting Webber]. I appreciate you.”

Webber also spoke to rolling out on his special day.

Who first got you into business?

In my travels of playing, I had access to businessmen and people I naturally became friends with. Then, I found out what their interests were, how they did what they did, and I would get advice. They were business mentors.

The people that I wanted to be like were athletes who went on after basketball like Magic Johnson, who went from Starbucks to movie theaters to owning the Lakers, Dodgers, and everything else now. The example of those basketball players, Magic, Isiah [Thomas], Vinnie Johnson, and others that if you look at their track record of what they’ve done off the court, it’s as impressive as it was on the court.

This was breaking news today, but Bronny James just declared for the NBA Draft. What is your first reaction to that?

That’s shocking news to me. I think it’s going to be somewhat of an uphill battle because of the whole context. But I think he’s gonna fare just fine. I think he’s going to be all right.

Chase your dreams. Bronny, don’t listen to anybody who has something to say that’s negative because when we get bored, we spew negativity. You, your pops, wonderful mother, brother, sister, you got it. Do what you’ve got to do. If you don’t believe in you, who else is going to?


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