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The five-time NBA All-Star connected with Yahoo Sports senior NBA writer Vincent Goodwill to discuss his role in changing the paradigm for power forwards in the NBA. Plus, Webber opens up about the $100 million Cannabis Impact Fund to assist minority entrepreneurs and his chances on making the Basketball Hall of Fame.
VINCENT GOODWILL: Welcome here to Yahoo Sports. I'm Vincent Goodwill, senior NBA writer, here with future Hall of Famer, five time NBA All-Star, Turner Sports NBA analyst, Chris Webber. C Webb, you have founded the Webber Wellness and getting into the cannabis industry. We're going to talk about that a little bit later. You're wearing a Michigan-- you're wearing a Michigan hoodie. I'm wearing a Fab Five hoodie as a way to pay homage. We're both Detroit natives.
CHRIS WEBBER: Appreciate it.
VINCENT GOODWILL: You know what I mean?
CHRIS WEBBER: Appreciate it. You know, you know.
VINCENT GOODWILL: I look at you with your hands, with your foot speed, we talk about being different. Did you know that you were, like, like, just gifted? Because after you comes KG, Rasheed Wallace, all these other power forwards that we've seen today. You know, you were kind of different. You weren't Karl Malone. You could be Karl Malone, but you were so much more diverse and gifted.
And I don't know if you remember this play. There was this play where you and Juwan were playing together in Washington. And Nick Van Exel had you on the perimeter. And he was trying to-- he was trying to give you and in-and-out and you just snatched it and went down and dunked it. I was like this is something different! You know what I mean?
- Holy mackerel! What a play by Chris!
VINCENT GOODWILL: Like, did you know that you were changing the paradigm for that position?
CHRIS WEBBER: I knew I was part of a generation that was changing the paradigm. You know, because if you really think about it, you know, we grew up on Magic. So he's 6'9", and now in practice, you know, in middle school, a lot of coaches aren't letting us dribble. You know, coaching us late. They didn't let you dribble. Big man only have to do this. So, I knew as a big man and in high school being able to shoot 3's or being able to do other things, and at that time, no big man was doing it-- or I won't say no big man, because I had Derrick Coleman, others come before me, but not a lot were doing it. I knew that I could do some things other people my size couldn't do and I wanted to play different positions.
And then, you know, when Nellie kind of validated that, you know, my first year, by trying to make me the point forward and doing things like that, I realized I had that gift, you know. And, you know, I just think as far as KG and Sheed and them, we all grew up in the same era. I was just older. I'm sure, you know, they were a couple years older, they would have brought it, because I admire their games, too.
But, yeah, I stole from everybody that came before me as power forwards. There was Barkley, Karl Malone, Derrick Coleman, Magic Johnson, so big guys that could do more and spread the game. I just didn't want to be a big guy who couldn't shoot.
VINCENT GOODWILL: And now you're moving into the cannabis industry, where $100 million impact fund, essentially because African-Americans have been cut out of this business, and now you're trying to basically start this fund where we can be in this business. What was the impetus? What's the driving force behind that right now?
CHRIS WEBBER: The first driving force is just, you know, my mother, my whole life, father having discussions about, you know, name one Black-- name one business where Blacks haven't been left out. Now, while we spend a couple days or centuries trying to figure that out, I can name a bunch of businesses that have been built on the backs of that, whether you talk about the cotton industry, so we didn't get that. Talk about transportation, we didn't get any of that. Talk about tech, just as recently as-- tech is still booming, and there's no one made a funds for that, so.
Versus is foremost it's about business and access to individuals who are qualified and giving access to the community that was so unfairly targeted by unfair laws, racist laws. And so, hopefully there is a freedom with that. I've seen through family, friends, my community, you know, families devastated by the plant that can cause so much healing and restoration. And now that others try to take advantage of it, it's funny, not speaking about you, but it's funny that I'm even questioning why I would do it, when it's so obvious that in America this needs to be done.
That's why I hope that we really honor the process, because if we do it right, I think my friends or other business leaders will start to do it in their areas of expertise. Because this isn't welfare. We aren't giving anybody anything. You know, these are qualified people that just get looked over because of the color of their skin or because of their gender, period. And so hopefully we can make a change.
VINCENT GOODWILL: And it's funny, you talk about people who are getting overlooked the color of their skin, even if you spin it back to basketball. The Minnesota Timberwolves head coaching situation, how, how that happened. Ryan Saunders being fired, David Vanterpool being passed over for another coach. Like, what does that-- does that make you glad that you didn't go into coaching, because you're like, you know what, that would have happened to me?
Or do you look at it like, this is another industry that definitely needs-- I won't say reform, because it's the NBA, and, like, people are smart. Like, this isn't-- this isn't something where people need to be educated. Or is it just something you're just disappointed that, that education hasn't led to actual change yet?
CHRIS WEBBER: Yeah. I still don't know an industry where there's significant participation of ownership by Black and Brown people. There's a lot of players in the league. There's no significant ownership in the league. Whatever excuse or truths anyone has, it can all be addressed through diversity. That just let's you know the mentality. But then, you know, success breeds great decision making and they haven't had much success in a while. And maybe they'll get, you know, get back to it when they get to be able to go home and kind of, you know, do a little autopsy on themselves to see why they're in certain positions.
VINCENT GOODWILL: Yeah, they've only had three-- I think three Black coaches. Think Dwane Casey was fired after going 20 and 20.
CHRIS WEBBER: But Sam Mitchell was Coach of the Year.
VINCENT GOODWILL: Sam Mitchell was coach-- and then over, and took over after Flip Saunders died, and they were like, you know what, yeah, you're good. You know what I mean? Like, it's first fired, last hired type of thing. And I know that's, that's frustrating for me as a writer, and I'm sure that's frustrating for you in your scene.
CHRIS WEBBER: It is what it is, and I really don't have hope in any system, any genre of business, any team, any corporation. I have hope in people. And then when people start to continue, when people continue to step up like they are, then that's when those corporations and other things change.
VINCENT GOODWILL: Well, you just mentioned hope, so I'm gonna end it on this. If I had a vote, you'd be in the Hall of Fame. I don't know the process. I don't-- it's very secretive. It's not like football, it's not like baseball, it's very hush-hush. A, does that bother you, or B, do you feel like you have the respect of being a Hall of Famer to the people who matter? Does the ceremonial part, does that mean something to you?
CHRIS WEBBER: I mean, I think, yes, it has bothered me, but it's not something that has made me bitter or is something you think about all the time.
VINCENT GOODWILL: Yeah.
CHRIS WEBBER: The validation of the best players that ever played in the world has been enough for me. What has been disappointing is that, you know, is-- it is about me, because it's me going in there, but for me, it's not about me. It's about, you know, my first coach, or my father making me play because I told him I wanted to play, and he said, well, if you give the team your word, you're going to have to stay there for a week, and I wanted to quit after the first day. It's, it's honoring all those people that got you there. You know?
And that's, that's what it is. The Hall of Fame, yeah, it's about that person, but it really isn't. It's everyone else getting rewarded. When do they get a-- when does everybody else get the reward, the coaches, this and that, and saying, you know, we won. We put into him. And so they did that through my career, but, you know, I'd love to be able to thank them in front of the greatest in the world. And hopefully, you know, one day I'll get to honor those that helped me get that honor, if that honor still happens.
VINCENT GOODWILL: Well, if I got something to do with it, you'll get in.
CHRIS WEBBER: Thank you.
VINCENT GOODWILL: I, I think, Chris, I don't feel like I'm stepping out of turn by saying this. I think you are probably the most gifted power forward to ever play the game. Just in terms of your basketball gifts, everything you could do, I don't think I'm stepping on Tim Duncan or even Sheed, who I love, Sheed is my guy. Sheed might smack me upside the head for saying that on wax. But, you know, I think you are the most gifted power forward to ever play basketball, and I don't think it's even close.
Chris Webber, thanks for joining us. Good luck with everything, with the $100 million cannabis impact fund to help assist minority entrepreneurs. Good luck with all of that, man. It is great work that you're doing.
CHRIS WEBBER: Thanks, b. Thanks for having me on.