Chris Webber left the Warriors after a remarkable rookie season, an unheard-of situation for a No. 1 overall draft pick and Rookie of the Year. The upcoming Hall of Fame inductee spoke with The Athletic's Shams Charania, and believes the Warriors' style of play was misunderstood at the time, but paved the way for change within the league.
"I loved my time in Golden State. I think the league was changing again," Webber told Charania. "It was a difference at that time from old-school coaching and what you see now. I was part of that transition as well. It was fun to play point forward, but at that time, the league didn’t understand (then-Warriors head coach Don Nelson) Nelly. They didn’t understand me. Even though I won Rookie of the Year, we were criticized for it. It’s just funny now looking back, and I was a part of change. I have to look back at it. The backlash we got for trying to be that change."
Webber and the Warriors finished second in the NBA in pace behind the Los Angeles Clippers. A 50-32 team, the Warriors were swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the Phoenix Suns.
We now see point forwards like Webber was across the NBA, including Draymond Green who oftentimes runs the Warriors' offense while also holding down the center position. Players like LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Ben Simmons weren't around when Webber first came into the league. The Michigan product was one-of-a-kind, and learning from Chris Mullin allowed Webber to develop into an eventual All-NBA player and Hall of Fame selection.
"I remember just following Mully, doing everything that he did. I love Golden State, the Bay, and winning Rookie of the Year was awesome."
Webber was given a rare player option after his rookie year in his initial contract with the Warriors, and he exercised it in order to enter free agency. After several seasons with the then-Washington Bullets, Webber joined the Kings, where he spent the majority of his NBA career.
Nelson left the Warriors in 1995 and went to the New York Knicks. "Nelly" eventually returned for a brief stint as head coach in Golden State from 2006-10.
The Warriors went over a decade without a winning record after that outstanding rookie season from Webber, not returning to the postseason again until the "We Believe" team lit up the Bay Area in 2007.