After committing themselves to the game of basketball since early childhood, many NBA stars are unprepared for what’s to come once they retire from playing in the League. But what better than to stay in the world of basketball? Some players go into coaching, but many more enter the sports media industry and act as TV analysts, broadcasters, and commentators. It’s a win-win situation; players get to stay in their element while setting themselves up to navigate their new life, and fans get valuable insight from actual players who were on the court, in the huddles in the locker rooms. It also allows them to get closer to the players they idolize. The benefits of a TV analyst or commentator job for a former NBA player are great – unless you lose the job, publicly.
Why did Chris Webber lose his job with TNT? In May 2021, Chris Webber, former NBA superstar and TV analyst, mutually parted ways with TNT. Webber had been with TNT for 13 years, covering the NBA as well as the NCAA Tournament. The reason for Webber’s dismissal was not explicitly stated by either party. It has been reported that it was in connection to Webber’s last-minute refusal to participate in the 2021 NCAA March Madness Tournament, due to concerns over Covid.
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When did Chris Webber start working for TNT as a commentator and analyst?
Chris Webber retired from the NBA towards the end of the 2008-2009 season, and his broadcasting career had begun shortly after. After announcing his retirement on March 25th, 2008, Webber made his first TV appearance on TNT’s Inside the NBA show two days later, and about a month later, on April 25th, 2008, TNT offered him a contract to be a co-lead analyst on the commentary team during the NBA postseason.
What did Chris Webber do at TNT?
Chris Webber was a sports broadcaster at TNT, which covers a variety of roles. He was a guest TV analyst, who appeared on the Inside the NBA show, to discuss the games being covered as well as storylines around the league. Webber was the third analyst on the panel from 2008 until 2011, a role that he split with former Indiana Pacers star Reggie Miller; after Shaquille O’Neal became the third analyst permanently, Webber continued to make appearances as a fill-in analyst when required.
Webber was also a co-lead analyst on the commentary team for the NBA playoffs as well as the NCAA March Madness tournament, which was his main role at TNT since he was hired in 2008. In 2017, Webber also joined the Players Only segment on Monday nights, which was an analysis show that featured former NBA players only.
What is the reported reason for Webber parting ways with TNT?
Webber’s contract with TNT was due to expire at the end of the 2020-2021 NBA season. While there had yet to be any rumors of an extension, Webber was assigned to TNT’s commentary team for the 2021 NCAA March Madness tournament. The 2021 NCAA March Madness tournament was to be held in a “bubble” in Indianapolis, Indiana, in a similar format to the 2020 NBA Playoffs. Alongside players and team personnel, media members were also expected to commit to the bubble, including the sports broadcasting teams. Webber unexpectedly pulled out at the last minute, and did not commit to the bubble. Due to the sudden nature of his unavailability, TNT executives were left scrambling to find a replacement.
While Webber’s reasoning to pull out of the 2021 NCAA March Madness was not explicitly confirmed by him nor TNT executives, it is rumored that it was in relation to Webber being unwilling to be part of the bubble format. On May 5th, 2021, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported that Webber’s decision to pull out very late was not appreciated by TNT, especially with his contract expiring so soon. Marchand also reported that “Webber has been on TNT’s No. 1 team for a few seasons but has yet to fully connect with the audience. The feeling that Webber may not return has been building for a while.”
Webber’s broadcasting career wasn’t without its criticisms; in February 2021, Webber himself acknowledged that he hoped to improve his broadcasting in response to criticism from fans, while also berating those who attempted to troll him. Marchand also reported that prior to the March Madness incident, any sort of contract renewal talks with Webber were not yet on the table.
As a result, on May 14th, 2021, just days after Marchand broke the story, TNT confirmed that they were mutually parting ways with Webber. This was 8 days before the 2021 NBA Playoffs, during which Webber was a member of the commentary team since he started with TNT. Webber did not comment on the situation, although some theorized that Webber was ultimately pleased based on a series of cryptic tweets he made.
Has Chris Webber held any other sports broadcasting roles?
Webber was also an analyst on NBA TV’s main program NBA Gametime Live. He used to host the Tuesday Fan Night segment for a period of time.
What is Chris Webber doing now?
While sports broadcasting may have seemed to be Webber’s bread and butter after retiring from the NBA, Webber has been busy with various ventures and activities. In 2021, Webber created a private equity fund of $100 million, to invest in minority entrepreneurs who are looking to get into the legal cannabis industry. Webber has been passionate about the health and medical benefits of cannabis, destroying the stigmas around it and building awareness around it. Webber has also been critical of the way minorities have been discriminated against when it comes to cannabis, while others now stand to profit due to recent legalization. Webber’s private equity fund aims to tackle these issues and build up minority entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry.
Webber is also a partner in Coinllectibles, a tech company creating NFT art collections. Webber is the president of the sports division, and is aiming to create sports and media-based NFT art collections based on his own love for collecting sneakers and African-American art.
Webber followed the path that many stars do post-NBA; to become part of the NBA media. While it was what he did for a majority of his time after retiring, his job came to an end. But Webber is a great example for showing NBA stars that there’s many different things that they can pursue after their careers, and that following your passions can lead to great opportunities; not a bad lesson for the rest of us either!