Thursday was Chris Webber’s 45th birthday. These days, the five-time NBA All-Star and former Sixers forward works as an NBA analyst for TNT, and was courtside last night to call the Sixers’ 108-97 win over Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t Webber’s best night. In the third period, the lefthanded Ben Simmons sank an athletic righthanded jumper over Cavaliers small forward Cedi Osman, who ended up fouling the Sixers standout on the play.
Some might call Simmons “ambidextrous” for his ability to make lefthanded and righthanded jump shots inside the foul line. But Webber had his own word to describe Simmons’ skill set.
“I don’t know. Is this guy lefthanded, righthanded? Is he amphibious?” Webber wondered aloud to play-by-play announcer Marv Albert, who replied dryly, “I think he is amphibious.”
— Rob Tornoe (@RobTornoe) March 2, 2018
Simmons, whose ability to shoot with both hands stretches all the way back to his Australian roots, isn’t the first ambidextrous athlete to bring his game to Philadelphia. Last season, the Phillies acquired Pat Venditte for their spring training roster, and he used both arms to strike out the three batters he faced in his debut in Clearwater (fun fact: Venditte uses a six-finger glove).
Back in 2015, before to his stint with the Phillies, the East Oregonian featured an Associated Press story on Venditte, then pitching for the Oakland A’s, famously mistaking “ambidextrous” with “amphibious” in its headline.
Favorite headline of week. He pitches righty, lefty — and evidently, also underwater. Faces Aquaman in next outing. pic.twitter.com/efxaQxFp8Z
— Neill Woelk (@NeillWoelk) June 8, 2015
To be kind to Webber, some fans on Twitter floated the idea that his flub was actually an ingenious call back to former Sixers center Charles Shackleford, who famously said of his on-the-court versatility, “Left hand, right hand, it doesn’t matter. I’m amphibious.” Others said he was recalling the words of famed Yankees catcher and coach Yogi Berra, who once said of a teammate, “He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.”
Unfortunately, Webber nixed any idea the slip-up was intentional on his Twitter feed after the game.
Please splain…. https://t.co/3b7f0zPh0i
— Chris Webber (@realchriswebber) March 2, 2018