HoopsHype.com Interviews

Maurice Williams: "I'm enjoying basketball for the first time since my rookie season"
by Gery Woelfel / October 17, 2007

Maurice Williams - Icon Sports Media

You were an unrestricted free agent this summer and signed a six-year, $51.5 million contract with the Bucks. With more money, is there more pressure on you?

Maurice Williams: I think the pressure is off. I’m just free. I’m just playing basketball now. Instead of more pressure, there’s less pressure.

With your extra coin, did you go out and treat yourself to something special like a new car?

MW: You know what? Actually, I haven’t. I haven’t bought anything yet. Will I buy myself something in the future? Possibly. A strong possibility. But right now, I have the same things I had before I signed that contract.

Do you have your eye on something?

MW: Nothing particular. That’s why I haven’t gotten anything yet. But I’m sure something will come up.

You were a second-round pick of the Utah Jazz in 2003. Did you ever think you’d be in this kind of position where you’d make so much money?

MW: You never know, but you put your faith in God and put it in his hands. Your destiny is already written. All you have to do is let nature take its course. I was just myself. I continued to work hard to get better every day. But I knew I was good. I knew I could be this kind of player. I knew I could be in this position.

You’re going into your fifth NBA season and you’ve already had four different coaches: Jerry Sloan in Utah and Terry Porter, Terry Stotts and Larry Krystkowiak in Milwaukee. How difficult has it been adjusting to their systems?

MW: It’s been difficult, but fortunately for me, none of those coaches really tried to change my game. I don’t do a lot of off-the-wall type things. Right now, everything is great. I’m really enjoying basketball for the first time since my rookie season in Utah.

What players have really influenced the way you play?

MW: I really admire Gary Payton. He’s my all-time favorite player. I’m also a big fan of Jason Kidd. Both of those guys do a lot of things on the floor. They just don’t score; they rebound, they defend and they get their teammates the ball.

Some of your critics say you’re a shoot-first, pass-second point guard. How do you answer their assessments?

MW: I’ll let them say what they want to say. I’m a basketball player. When I’m on the floor, I’m always trying to find ways to help my team win however that may be.

The Bucks were decimated by injuries last season and you missed 14 games, mostly because of an injured left shoulder. On the first day of practice this season, you dinged your shoulder and started wearing a protective shoulder pad. How is your shoulder now?

MW: It’s fine. It’s just part of the game, part of training camp. You get banged up. This is the most physical action I’ve had since last season, so the shoulder hasn’t had that physical element since then.

What’s your impression of your rookie teammate, Yi Jianlian of China?

MW: Oh, he’s a good player. He’s a good student of the game. He’s knowledgeable. He’s going to grow into a good player.

What has stood out about Yi during training camp?

MW: He can shoot the ball. He can really spread the court by how well he shoots the ball. And he works hard.

Has Yi been exposed to any rookie pranks yet?

MW: Not yet. But it’s coming.

Gery Woelfel covers the Milwaukee Bucks and the NBA for The Racine (Wis.) Journal Times

Tell us what you think about this interview. E-mail us at HoopsHype@HoopsHype.com