Chris Webber and his Sacramento Kings were a big rival for the Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal-led Los Angeles Lakers, putting up a fight against the purple and gold during their three-peat run at the beginning of the 2000s.
The purple and gold created a terrific duo with Kobe and Shaq, but the Kings always tried to make life hard for them. They couldn't do it until 2002, when the Lakers looked vulnerable, fighting to overcome a 3-2 disadvantage in the Western Conference Finals.
Before Webber was traded to the Kings from the Washington Wizards/Bullets, the player wanted to take a different route and join forces with Kobe and Shaq in Los Angeles.
Webber held out hope that he’d be flipped to his preferred destination, the Lakers.
“I thought there was going to be a trade for Elden Campbell, Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel for me,” Webber said. “I wanted to go there.”
The Kings did everything they could to make things right for Webber, making it clear they had a plan for the future, with C-Webb playing an important role in that.
It took some work to get Webber past not being a Laker. There were conversations with general manager Geoff Petrie and coach Rick Adelman, assuring him he was welcome and needed in Sacramento. The talk with Adelman was especially key. The message, Webber said, was clear: “We know you wanted to go to the Lakers, but we want you and we need you and we’re going to win with you.”
In the end, that move put him on the map again, recovering the confidence he didn't have in Washington, creating a good duo with Vlade Divac at the paint.
Unfortunately for the Kings, they couldn't get past the Lakers in that 2002 NBA playoff. Controversies regarding the referees prevented Sacramento from playing in the Finals, but Webber knows they gave everything they had to defeat their nemesis.
If he went to the Lakers, that team would have probably won five or six titles, but we'll never know. On Saturday, the big man was finally inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, getting a long-awaited honor to reward a career that only missed a title.