The Warriors have been winning, but coach Don Nelson must think there are style points at stake. Already having cemented his legend as the mad scientist of hoops with his 7-foot point guards and last week’s Bellini-esque escapade of having a dust-covered reserve from Italy put in the game to foul an opponent relentlessly for sixty seconds, Nellie has won over the intelligentsia while keeping his hard-court cred flowing like a three-on-one break.
So why Chris Webber?
It reminds me of that Twilight Zone episode, where some twisted plutocrat has invited seemingly random people to survive the coming nuclear apocalypse with him in his radiation-proof lair. Turns out the only thing the befuddled invitees had in common is that they had all slighted the genius in some minor way back in the day. Rather than grovel, they ultimately decide they prefer thermonuclear destruction more than their petulant host. Putting aside the atomic holocaust (and the fact that this invited guest is a zillionaire himself) it’s as if Nelson felt compelled to spend his last coaching assignment on earth with the one guy who blew a chunk out of his largely intact legacy.
The Warriors have developed a personality, they run! they’re young! they’re rejects! Webber only fits into the last category after wearing out his welcome in five NBA ports o’ call. The team-wrecker who inspired two generations of Warriors to write the name of traded teammates on their shoes is supposedly here to lend a veteran presence.
Nelson has played the press like a pro, and gotten the San Jose Mercury to gush: “Webber part II Let the Fun begin.” If by slowing down the high-octane offense, sullying up a bouncy locker room, and forcing himself to be released sometime in April sounds like fun to you … there may be space for one more on the crashing bandwagon that Nellie built and will now destroy.
Why Nelson thinks it’s now worthwhile to pave over a pothole he passed a thousand miles ago is one for his shrink. Why he would burden his good-time team with a bad-news addition is one for the season ticket holders.