Chris Webber is 41 years old and 21 years removed from his last college basketball game. But he looks like he could still play. In Dallas as part of Burger King’s Watch Like a King contest, the NBA TV analyst towers over throngs of young — and not so young — fans as they gravitate over for a picture or kind word.
His new commercial for the restaurant has been a ubiquitous part of this frenzied NCAA Tournament, squeezed between buzzer-beaters and bracket-busting upsets.
He took a few moments out to speak with us. Here’s what we talked about:
BroBible: Why did you decide to shoot this commercial?
Webber: I just thought it was a really good opportunity and the time was right. I love basketball and it’s really been a wonderful opportunity for me. It’s wonderful being around these kids looking around. When they called — and I really do eat Burger King — it was a seamless relationship. I’m happy it was a positive for them and they got great feedback.”
BB: Does it feel good to be part of this huge event again?
Webber: It does. But I think people think I left it. It’s always felt good. I’ve been to other Final Fours. I think with Michigan going to the Final Four last year people thought maybe I didn’t mess with college and things like that. I just think last year was time for Michigan’s kids to shine and not a bunch of 40-year-old guys coming back in the stands getting credit. I’ve loved coming to [the Final Fours.] I love seeing little boys and little girls that want to play. They look at you, they want to ask questions, they read everything. That’s the way I used to be. I love it because I see myself in these kids. I know exactly who they are.
BB: Do you get recognized most for your college or pro career?
Webber: I think there’s a difference depending on age, but most for people it’s pro. College was a two-year stint and pro was a 15. It depends on what part of the country, too. A lot of people in Michigan know me for playing at Michigan, or even high school. Then you go to California, and they only remember the Kings versus Lakers. It’s kind of different, but it’s good to be in people’s memories for something.
BB: How have you kept yourself in such great shape?
Webber: I started swimming the last couple years. I wish I would have done it earlier. I know Tim Duncan did a lot of it. But I was so superstitious and thought I had to keep training the same way. I wish I would have swam more. It’s easy on the joints and is a full-body workout with all the stretching.
BB: You look like you could still lace them up.
Webber: I do think I could still play. I could give a team 30 games a year as long as it’s not back-to-backs.
BB: Was it hard to adjust to a schedule different than the one you’d grown so accustom to?
Webber: I went through it watching my father retire and he drives my mom crazy, just being active. No one wants to be around my father because he has too much energy [laughs] and I think that’s the way I am now. When you’re playing basketball, you spend all day trying to rest, even in the summer. You don’t want to put miles on the car. Now I’ve been blessed to be young enough to have a job with more time so I can think about what I want to do with the future, what can I do for myself. You kind of have mental energy and you’re wanting to go, go, go. It’s different getting used to and adjusting to, but it’s cool.
BB: Do you fill out a bracket?
Webber: I did not this year. I usually do every year, though. I would have lost the billion dollars with Duke anyway.
BB: Do you think knowing basketball provides any advantage when people do their brackets?
Webber: Knowing something about the school is more important than basketball. Knowing something about the team is key. I had a friend who swore up and down Dayton was going to win. He was from Ohio, he watched [both Dayton and Ohio State] play and sized them up. I think it’s more important knowing the team or situation. Even if you know one player likes to play in Dallas, that’s more important than all the basketball stuff. Analysts, we gunk it up with all of this analytics and everything else when really the kids just need to go and play and do their thing.”
BB: Your suit game is pretty on point. Is it a point of pride to outdress your broadcasting peers?
Webber: My wife would say thank you because she dresses me, so I have to give her credit for that. I’ve always just liked to be comfortable more than anything, like the long shorts at Michigan. I’m one of those guys who has to feel comfortable with what I’m wearing. For instance, Peja Stojakovic, we always share stuff on how to dress. He was the first guy with this tight stuff on. I couldn’t do it because it felt so tight, I couldn’t get up and move like I want. So I can’t be as stylish as some. For me, if I’m comfortable, I’ll look good and feel good as opposed to sitting there stiff.
BB: About those baggy shorts … did you ever think guys took them too far? That you’d created a monster?
Webber: Not really. Maybe a couple times at a couple parks. Allen Iverson took it to a different level, and Jason Williams. The thing about the shorts is, they come in length and width. With AI and J-Will being so skinny, they didn’t get them tight and long, they got them baggy and long. I thought those two took it to a to another level.”
[Image via Matthew Eammons/USA Today Sports]