View Full Version : Against his lawyers' wishes, Webber opens his mouth

09-10-2002, 10:38 PM
Webber says he didn't lie to grand jury

September 10, 2002 Print it

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Chris Webber, still sweating from an offseason workout, was cool and collected Tuesday as he vowed to fight charges that he lied to a federal grand jury.

Ignoring the advice of his lawyers, Webber said he was speaking out because "I wanted to show my supporters I am not running away from the situation."

"I will fight this case to the end, and I feel that I will be vindicated," the Sacramento Kings All-Star forward said.

Webber was indicted Monday on charges he misrepresented his dealings with Ed Martin, a former University of Michigan booster who claims he loaned the NBA star $280,000 while Webber was an amateur player. Martin also said he loaned money to other Michigan basketball players, including two who admitted taking it.

"I did not lie to the grand jury," he said at the Kings' practice complex.

It's too soon to say whether Webber will miss any games in the upcoming season to deal with his legal woes, said Geoff Petrie, the Kings' vice president of basketball operations.

Webber, who led Michigan's "Fab Five" team to two NCAA title games, has repeatedly denied taking significant amounts of money from Martin. Webber was charged with obstruction of justice and making a false declaration before a grand jury, according to the FBI and U.S. attorney's office in Detroit.

The maximum penalty on each charge Webber faces is five years and a fine of $250,000.

Wearing a suit and tie in front of a large contingent of reporters, Webber described Martin, a former auto worker, as a predatory fan who placed unwanted attention on promising athletes such as Webber, who starred at Detroit Country Day High School before attending college in nearby Ann Arbor.

"This case is about a man who befriended kids like myself, preying on our naivete, our innocence, claiming that he loved us and that he wanted to support us, but later wanting to cash in on that love and support that we thought was free," Webber said.

Although he read a statement and did not answer questions from reporters, he did manage to joke about his perspiration: "I'm sweating because I had a good workout today."

Webber's father, Mayce Webber Jr., and his aunt, Charlene Johnson, were indicted on the same charges as Webber.

In three weeks, Webber will start the second season of his seven-year, $123 million contract -- the second-largest deal in NBA history when he signed it last summer. While preparing for the season, he'll also be dealing with the possible repercussions from occasionally accepting what he has previously said were small amounts of money, mostly under $50, from Martin.

Petrie and Kings coach Rick Adelman joined Webber inside the Kings' workout center next to Arco Arena while several of his teammates practiced a few feet away. If Webber, the Kings' leading scorer and rebounder, is happy and focused, Sacramento will be a strong favorite to win its first league title.

"We'll support Chris in whatever he chooses to do, and we don't think it will affect what he does on the court," Petrie said. "As far as basketball goes, some of the greatest joy in his life comes from basketball. I think he'll handle the rest of this responsibly."

Webber said he will continue to speak out.

"I will dedicate time speaking to kids and families that are in athletics such as myself about the pitfalls of athletics and those who prey on kids and young families," he said. "Hopefully, they can learn from this experience."

Martin pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to launder money, admitting he took gambling money, combined it with other funds and lent it to several players while they were still amateurs.

Martin, 68, said his payments included $280,000 to Webber; $160,000 to Robert Traylor, now with the New Orleans Hornets; $105,000 to Maurice Taylor, now with the Houston Rockets; and $71,000 to Louis Bullock, who has been playing professionally in Europe.

Traylor and Bullock admitted to the grand jury they received the loans, said their attorney, Steve Fishman. Former Michigan star Jalen Rose, now with the Chicago Bulls, said in May he took "pocket money" from Martin.

Payments to college players violate NCAA rules. The indictment said Webber, his father and aunt gave false information to the university in its internal investigation and the school forwarded it to the NCAA.

The indictment says Webber, his father and his aunt conspired to conceal the cash, checks, clothing, jewelry and other benefits provided to the player and his family by Martin from 1988 to 1993.

Webber, a 6-10, 245-pound forward and four-time All-Star, has averaged 22.1 points and 10.2 rebounds during his nine-year career. He was the first pick in the 1993 draft and was rookie of the year with Golden State.

He also starred at Washington before being traded to the Kings. Webber led Sacramento to the NBA's best regular-season record and its first Pacific Division championship. The Kings reached the Western Conference finals, where the Kings lost in seven games to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers.

Sacramento retained every significant player on its roster in the offseason while adding versatile forwards Keon Clark and Jumaine Jones, who was acquired in a trade with Cleveland on Tuesday.

"This situation has only increased my love for the game of basketball, which I cannot wait to get back to," Webber said. "This has not stolen my joy in any way for the game of basketball."



Uhmmmm Chris, do you really think it's wise to continue denying you took money? This is the reason you are where you are at right now big fella. All your former teammates admitted that they took money and they aren't in hot water like you are. Even your dad wasn't about to go on record saying that you and/or him didn't take money.

He's right about Martin being a predator, but by Chris being a "stupid" and trying to slink out of what he did, he is going to hurt himself.

09-11-2002, 05:19 AM
If only he would take a shot as bravely as he opens his mouth.....

09-11-2002, 06:58 AM
thanks for the story Laker Mania.

09-11-2002, 06:38 PM
IF he is found guilty, he will spend a minimum of 6 months in jail.

09-11-2002, 06:44 PM
I would be VERY suprised if he spends a day in jail.