Outside of their extreme athletic abilities, NBA players are also known for their fashion choices. And a select few are fortunate enough to have a signature sneaker line. From Michael Jordan to Stephen Curry, NBA stars have long pushed their name, image, and likeness with a shoe that represents them on and off the court.
Chris Webber was allowed a signature sneaker, but his outcome differed from the previously mentioned.
Webber is a Detroit, MI, native who entered the league as the 1993 No. 1 draft pick, selected by the Orlando Magic. He was then traded to the Golden State Warriors, according to Rookie Wire. Spending only one season in the Bay Area, Webber would play for several other teams, spending most of his career with the Sacramento Kings.
During his 15-season career, he averaged 20.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists. His on-court performance led him to become Rookie of the Year and a five-time All-NBA Team member.
With consistent playtime and credible contributions on the court, Webber was able to amass an estimated $178.2 million in on-court earnings, based on data from Spotrac. And even after his NBA career had ended, Webber continued to leverage his influence to generate wealth.
According to a New York Post report, Webber lives on a farm in the Atlanta, GA, area and launched a cannabis facility in his hometown. He also partnered with Jason Wild to establish a private equity firm to support and invest in entrepreneurs of color.
His focus on his business endeavors comes on the heels of his tenure as a sports commentator for TNT. His partnership with TNT has since ended, his love and commitment to basketball has not.
“I love basketball. I love sports. To work with TNT was a crazy opportunity, and I felt I was pretty good at it. However, I really want to own a basketball team,” Webber said to New York Post.
While his desire to own a team mirrors the accomplishments of those like Jordan, the billionaire may have been Webber’s blueprint to follow in other areas of basketball and with sneakers as well.
In 1996, Nike and Chris Webber had a signature shoe ready for launch, but the two disagreed on a fundamental concept — retail pricing.
According to Basketball Network, Chris Webber wore various Nike-branded shoes during his rookie and sophomore seasons.
During his third year in the league, Nike developed the Air Max CW. Although it didn’t have his logo on it when first released, the 50-year-old still wore the signature shoe after it dropped. However, he was displeased.
It had nothing to do with the design and everything to do with the price. Webber alleges that the shoe was priced at $140, more than Jordan’s signature shoes at the time.
“How can I charge that price for my shoe when I speak to all those inner city kids and preach to them? How can my shoe cost more than Michael Jordan’s?” Webber said, according to a 1996 report from Sports Business Journal.
However, a Nike shoe designer refuted those claims in an Instagram post, noting the shoe was initially designed to be $110 and eventually landed at $120.
When Webber and Nike could not agree, the former Sacramento Kings player went on to play in a competitor’s shoe.
According to the Sports Business Journal, the NBA legend began wearing the Converse All Star 2000 when Webber and Nike parted ways. During that time, his agent, Fallasha Erwin, contacted Converse to create a signature shoe deal. However, nothing ever materialized.
While the Converse deal never came to fruition, The Washington Post reported that Webber signed a contract with Fila in March 1997. That deal was short-lived due to Webber navigating off-court challenges related to drug possession charges.
In 1998, Fila decided to sever ties with Webber based on their internal investigation, ending the three-year, multi-million-dollar contract.
Although that year seemed to end Webber’s shoe negotiations, the 50-year-old would have the last laugh.
In a previous report from AfroTech, Webber launched The Players Only Holdings, a $50 million cannabis operation located in his hometown of Detroit.
“To be able to bring this to Detroit is the most special thing because I waited,” said Webber in a press statement to CBS Sports. “I waited till I really learned the industry; we’ve been in here a while. I waited to try and see what the right landscape was, and all of that studying and preparation and patience really makes me feel like I just can’t wait to hit this here, and the people are going to make it a home run.”