Jay Williams RumorsAll NBA Players
Height: 6-2 / 1.88
Weight:194 lbs. / 88.4 kg.
Height: 6-2 / 1.88
Weight:194 lbs. / 88.4 kg.
Alex Kennedy: How much preparation and homework goes into being an analyst and how much do you enjoy that role? Jay Williams: Well, I love it. It took some getting used to at the beginning, to be frank with you, because ESPN kind of throws you right into the mix. So first off, I had no idea what camera to look into. Secondly, I’ve never had to speak with somebody else speaking in my ear. You have your producer and you have an on-site camera guy to tell you what camera to speak into while your producer is giving you the layout of the stuff that is coming up next. And, by the way, we aren’t reading off a teleprompter so we have to be able to talk about 350+ Division I teams like the back of my hand and that was a challenging task.
Kennedy: If you were a general manager and you had the first pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, would you pick Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor? Williams: It all depends on what you need and it depends on the system in which you play. If the Knicks were to get the first pick and Phil Jackson has made it clear that they want to run the triangle and you already have a pillar in Carmelo Anthony who is a legit wing, it makes sense to take Jahlil Okafor because he is a old school center. If you’re a team like Minnesota, then maybe it makes sense to take a versatile four-five like Karl-Anthony Towns. It all depends on what you like.
Williams says he couldn’t even think about being lucky to be alive. “I couldn’t even process what was happening at that particular moment,” he says. Weighing heavily on Williams’ mind were the warning signs he ignored. “I’ve been told so many times not to ride this bike,” he says. “I’ve had a dream about this particular moment that I decide not to listen to.”
Jay Williams was poised to become one of the biggest superstars in the NBA. After leading Duke to a NCAA championship in 2001 and earning a national player of the year title, he graduated early to receive a No. 2 draft pick with the Chicago Bulls. After playing one season, Williams was riding his motorcycle in Chicago — a violation of his contract — and lost control, crashing into a utility pole. He survived the severed nerve, fractured pelvis, dislocated knee and internal bleeding, but the psychological damage of the accident remained. His NBA career was over before it really began, and Williams tells Oprah in his upcoming “Super Soul Sunday” interview that he was left only with remorse. “The first thing I yell is, ‘I threw it all away,’ Williams says. “I felt at that moment that I had thrown everything I had just worked for my entire life away.”
Williams — the #2 overall pick in the 2002 Draft — didn’t seem too surprised with Bynum’s recent suspension from the Cleveland Cavaliers (conduct detrimental to the team) because it falls in line with a pattern of behavior from someone who just doesn’t love the game. “Andrew Bynum is Andrew Bynum … basketball ain’t for everybody.” Williams explained, “Sometimes dudes are tall and people expect ’em to play hoop … and they can hoop and you can make great money doing it, [but it] doesn’t mean they love hoop.” “I’m not saying that Andrew Bynum doesn’t love basketball, but everything he’s been doing doesn’t make it seem like he loves basketball, makes is it seem like he’s just doing it for the exposure and the money.”
“When you arrived in training camp, Lawrence Frank handed you a book that was about 10 inches thick that was the playbook. I literally felt like an NFL Quarterback with all the plays I had to memorize, and I had a very difficult time doing so. And then while we would be in practice, when Lawrence Frank would call out different plays, J-Kidd would end up running the plays that he felt fit the team, and Lawrence wouldn’t really say anything to him. Now, Jay’s obviously a perennial All-Star, and you can see that, right? So, the fact that [Kidd] had to re-assign Lawrence Frank didn’t surprise me at all because he is going to do the things he wants to do his way,” Jay Williams said.
Jay Williams, the former two-time College Basketball Player of the Year, former Chicago Bulls guard and one-time invitee to New Jersey Nets training camp, told Jason Mcintyre of The Big Lead that Jason Kidd and Lawrence Frank had “always had friction,” dating back to their days when their relationship was as a player and coach. “I’m speaking totally upon speculation here, but when I played training camp there, and I worked out with J-Kidd for a good five or six months, there was always a little bit of friction between [Kidd and Frank]. Not in the regards of, ‘hey, we hate each other,’ but more so in their styles; their approach to the game,” Jay Williams said.
“Imagine it,” Williams said. “You’re 22, 23 years old and you’re still mad at yourself for what you did to yourself as far as my accident. At that point, I did not want to be in the limelight—I wanted to be in a dark hole so I could do what I needed to do in order to get back. And trying to cover games at that juncture of my life was an arduous task. I am there, asking kids who their favorite players were, who did they model their game after, and I remember a couple kids said, ‘You, when you were good.’”
He thought of suicide, he said. Twice. “It was tough, after I got dropped by the Nets,” Williams said. “I kind of looked up and all my friends are in the primes of their careers. Whether it be LeBron, or D-Wade, guys who came in a year after me, or guys who came in with me, you’re seeing all these guys sign these multi-year, big contracts, being named as franchise guys. You’re like, ‘Damn, I was on that path.’ I went from the top to the bottom. It happened like that, at the snap of my fingers.”
Williams lost control of the bike, smashed into a utility pole, had his leg crushed and was injured within a whisker or two of his life. He went back to the spot of the accident for the first time since then this month, in order to film a segment for HBO’s Real Sports. “I couldn’t even do it,” Williams told Sporting News just ahead of the show’s debut. “I could not make it through that part of the interview. I had all the details in my mind already, I had been replaying them for 10 years. Once I got there, I was there for 10 minutes and I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I couldn’t articulate. I couldn’t talk. My tongue was stuck. My whole body was stuck.”
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“I like Jay, but when you make blanket statements, you incriminate everyone,” said Rick Brunson, currently a Bobcats assistant coach. “You have to look in the mirror first: ‘Did I contribute to some of those things?’ Your career didn’t go the way it should’ve gone. Let it go. You’re doing a great job on ESPN. You should be honored and blessed the Bulls paid you.”
Knicks center Tyson Chandler called ESPN analyst Jay Williams’ assertion that members of the 2002-03 Chicago Bulls smoked marijuana prior to games “ridiculous” on Monday evening. Chandler and Williams played together on the 2002-03 Bulls. “I don’t know why he would say something like that. I think that’s ridiculous that he would come out and say something. I don’t remember that to be honest with you. And it’s unfortunate that he would make that kind of statement about our game,” Chandler said at the team’s charity bowling event to support Madison Square Garden’s Garden of Dreams Foundation.
“My thing is, why say these things now?” said Donyell Marshall, one of the team leaders from 2002-03. “You don’t need to be making people assume. You’re messing up situations for other people. Now, instead of Fred (Hoiberg, coach of Iowa State) focusing on the NCAA tournament or whatever, he’s got to deal with that (crap).”
Jay Levy, ESPN’s senior coordinating producer for men’s college basketball, said Williams learned to slow down over the past few years, to let the broadcast breathe. Williams watched as much tape as when he played. He started to pitch interviews, which showed initiative for an analyst among ESPN’s youngest, an analyst whose career goals include becoming the “African-American Matt Lauer.” “I hope people remind me of my accident every day of my life,” Williams said. “Because that means I’m a prime example of somebody who had it and lost everything and may not have gotten it back in the same capacity but still reinvented myself.”
Williams glanced at his mother, Althea Williams, as he recounted the story. He continued: “I mean, to the point where I sat there, and I had this pair of scissors in my hand. I just kept going on my wrist. I wasn’t trying to go sideways. I was going vertical. I didn’t want to be here. At all.” His mother added: “I came in. I saw it. I slept in the room every day after that.” “That was the lowest point in my life,” Williams said. “And if I had more time, if the scissors weren’t dull, I think I would have followed through with it. I can’t say for sure. But I was leaning toward that.”
At his lowest point, Williams did more than consider suicide. “I remember lying in my bed,” he said. “And I’m just tired of being here. I didn’t want to be here anymore. I was so afraid to face people. And I didn’t really know who I was. And I didn’t really want anybody to see me. And I didn’t want to talk to anybody. I didn’t want to talk about it.”
For years, Williams struggled with depression. He refused to wear shorts or show anyone his left leg. He asked the inevitable: why me? He took too much pain medication, too much OxyContin in particular, for too long. He blew out the candles for his 22nd birthday in bed. He spent years in rehabilitation. He resented the teammates who lacked his drive but remained in the N.B.A., collecting paychecks, accolades, even championship rings. He cried himself to sleep. He went to therapy. He moved to New York City and tried to become an agent and drank alcohol frequently.
Williams clipped the pole with the left side of his body, which sent him spinning, around and around, over and over. He could not feel his left side, or anything from the waist down. He did not think about death, amputation or depression. He thought only about his career. He lay there, numb, in shock, terrified but so full of adrenaline that his body blocked out most of the pain. It felt as if someone were pouring water on him. He passed out and woke up in an ambulance, passed out again and woke up in a hospital. Even the doctors looked scared. They needed to contact his parents, needed to operate immediately. They worried about amputation, about death. Williams remembered little but clung to an image from the scene, his first glance sideways as he spun. There it was: a red fire hydrant. He screamed: “You threw it all away! You threw it all away!”
On that afternoon in June, Williams again revved the engine, only this time, the motorcycle surged forward unexpectedly, shot like a bullet from a gun. The front wheel lifted off the ground for an accidental wheelie. Williams was not wearing a helmet, did not have a proper license, was in violation of his contract with the Chicago Bulls. He gripped the handlebars, which only seemed to make the bike go faster, which only made him lose control. “I’m gone,” Williams said. “I’m flying. I’m going 50, 60 miles an hour. As I look up, I see a utility pole, and I couldn’t turn the bike and get out of the way.”