Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Is the East ready for C-Webb

Phill Jasner reports that 76ers star forward is eager to prove critics wrong.

Chris Webber couldn't help himself. He couldn't hold back his passion for basketball. Even if the 76ers don't begin training camp until Oct. 4. Taking a break the other day from his foundation's drive to gather school supplies for the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, Webber couldn't hold back about how he perceives his role in his first full season with the team.
"It's Allen's team," Webber said, a reference to star guard Allen Iverson. "He's been here 9 years. If he came to Sacramento, it would have been my team, and I would have worked with him. [This] is his team, his environment. The way he goes is the way we're going to go. I'm more worried about myself. I need to be me, to play my game and really not give a damn about anything."
Webber came to the Sixers at last season's trade deadline after 6-plus seasons with the Kings. He wasn't as productive as he had been, but he insisted it wasn't because of the change in midstream or because of any problems with his surgically repaired knee.
"I averaged 22 [points] and 10 [rebounds] before I got here," said Webber, who averaged 15.6 points and 7.9 rebounds with the Sixers after averaging 21.3 and 9.7 with the Kings. "You're telling me my knee started hurting in January and February? It was a good excuse [for others]. My percentages went down because my knee hurt? You're telling me one day in the middle of the season, my knee hurt and it changed the season? If I'm playing on a hurt knee and putting up those numbers [with the Kings], why would it change? It's on me to be myself, to come back and play my game."
Webber said he was appreciative that Sixers president and general manager Billy King stayed in contact during the offseason. Now, he's eager to perform but at the same time trying to rein in his emotions. To him, the time isn't yet right.
"I want to win a championship," he said. "Are we good enough to beat Miami? San Antonio? The odds aren't in our favor; of course not. But so what? Who cares? I like it when the odds are against me. I love the fact that people think my knee is hurt. I love the fact that people think it's over. I revel in it. I love it. I wrap it around myself and embrace it, because I will not be broken.
"Besides that, what else can I do but wait [for the season]? I get so hyped, my hands start sweating now. I've got to hold all of that energy in. Don't bring it out of me now."

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