Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Webber Eager for New 'Players Only' NBA Programming

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Webber Eager for New 'Players Only' NBA Programming

Article excerpt

MIAMI - Chris Webber's first night as a television analyst ended with the former Michigan star getting teased about his infamous extra timeout that helped seal the Wolverines' fate in the 1993 NCAA championship game against North Carolina. He laughed it off.

It was, as Turner Sports colleague Ernie Johnson called it that night, an initiation. And not only did Webber pass, he has flourished - evolving into one of the game's respected voices, a player-turned-broadcaster who tries to combine the emotion of what's happening on the floor with a professionalism that he believes is required of those behind the microphone.

Webber will be one of the headliners when TNT unveils its new "Players Only platform on Monday night, a five-week run of doubleheaders where all the commentators will be former pro men's and women's players.

Among the other players involved: Chris Bosh, Isiah Thomas, Baron Davis, Grant Hill, Kevin McHale and Lisa Leslie.

"It's a crazy opportunity as a player to be able to kind of take over the studio, said Webber, a finalist for induction in this year's Basketball Hall of Fame class. "Some of the guys and I have talked about what a crazy opportunity this is, and we're going to make the most of it.

"I do think we can change the game with this opportunity, Webber said.

In a time when television remarks have started feuds between current and former players - like the longstanding back-and-forth between Charles Barkley and stars like Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, and in the last few days the dustup involving Shaquille O'Neal, JaVale McGee and Kevin Durant - Webber has prided himself on being fair with criticisms.

There are times when people within the game tease one another, like the night Johnson asked him how many timeouts are allowed in college games. Webber thinks that's fair - but he avoids the banter that turns personal. …

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