Pat Williams Rumors
The Magic have made a critical decision that could alter the 2015-16 season. What, they’ve named a new head coach? Nah. This is bigger, much bigger: They will station good-luck charm Pat Williams in the room closer to the actual ping-pong balls for the NBA Draft Lottery on May 19 in New York. Williams has won three previous lotteries with Orlando — the last one coming in 2004 (Dwight Howard.)
If only T-Mac could find a team that agrees with him. Even Williams, who fondly remembers the back-to-back NBA scoring titles McGrady had for his Magic a decade ago, sighs softly when asked about the comeback. “Tracy has milked every bit of basketball talent out of his body,” Williams says. “There’s nothing left.”
Now, Williams has been able to resume his speaking engagements and traveling with the Magic when needed. That includes his trip to the draft lottery, something that, in 2011, it did not seem he would be alive for. But Williams has fought his way back to his normal life. Well, mostly. “Other than marathons,” he said. “No more marathons, at least at this point. I have done 58 of them, but they’re on hold for now.”
But Williams did not stay down long. He still had more life to live. The first step was to figure out how to stop the cancer, and force it into remission. Knowing he had a very difficult cancer to deal with, he gave Dr. Reynolds the green light to try whatever was needed. “I have been on every medication they have, I have done bone marrow treatments, every drug,” Williams said. “I told him, ‘Don’t hold anything back, I will be your guinea pig.’ Whatever they have that might work, I want to try it. I have seen progress in the last three years that was unimaginable when he first told me.”
But there it was, this exotic phrase: multiple myeloma. His first question was the one that most naturally occurs to a patient, how long do I have to live? Dr. Reynolds’ answer was not comforting: Two years, maybe three. “When I got the news, obviously I was shocked,” Williams said. “Just stunned. That was the last thing on my mind, that I might have cancer. I could not imagine it. “When Dr. Reynolds broke the news, I was just—wow, I was overwhelmed. I had been a fitness nut, I have been careful about my lifestyle and suddenly I am being told I have multiple myeloma, something I had never even heard of.”
The new drugs put Pat Williams’ myeloma into remission. That’s the theme of his new book and he’s eager to try the next wave. “I’ve told the docs, I’ll be your number one guinea pig. Sock it to me, baby. Sock it to me,” said Williams. Williams would like to build a research and treatment center for multiple myeloma in Orlando. Other prominent myeloma patients include NBC newsman Tom Brokaw and former Cubs manager Don Baylor.
Three years ago, at age 70, the heath nut who’d run 58 marathons was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. “Me, Mr. health, Mr. fitness, no cancer in my family. I was just overwhelmed,” said Williams. Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer caused by overproduction of plasma cells. If left untreated, it destroys the bones, but like thousands of others, Williams has benefited from a stream of new drugs to treat it.
Before Williams returned to Philadelphia, Hewitt turned what seemed like an innocuous question into a bolt out of the blue. “He drove me out to the airport, and I just said, ‘If pro basketball were to go in Florida, where would you put the team, Miami or Tampa?’ That really got him upset,” Williams recalled. “He said, ‘Neither place. You’d put it right here in Orlando.’ And I remember saying as we got to the airport, ‘Well, Jimmy, if you really believe that, you might get a hold of David Stern and just see what’s going on.’ And I thought no more of it. The next week, I’m back in my office in Philadelphia. The phone rings, and it’s Jimmy saying, ‘Bubba, we’ve got an appointment with David Stern in New York. We’re going up to see him next week.’ ”
“Oh, boy, John,” Pat said, despondently, after Gabriel delivered his news. Then Gabe said that Pat — in typical upbeat Williams-style whimsy — – quipped, “Well, Gabe, we’re two peas in a pod, I guess.” Several months later, Gabriel was on a Saturday summer bike ride in Ocean City, N.J. A church marquee caught his eye — Sunday’s guest speaker: Pat Williams.
The illnesses have exacted tolls on their bodies. But their indomitable spirits remain intact, allowing them to carry on and deliver messages spoken and unspoken. “Stay involved with life. That’s the whole key,” Williams said. “Sitting home doing nothing could be deadly.” Says Gabriel, “It’s a major pause in your life. You call a timeout and get yourself back in the game.” The former Magic general managers — Gabe succeeded Pat and served as GM (1996-2004) — still regularly attend Magic games. Williams, 73, is now a senior VP with the Magic; Gabriel, 57, still maintains his Winter Park home while serving as the New York Knicks’ director of scouting.
Pat Williams and John Gabriel share an even deeper bond today: A profound appreciation for life as inspiring survivors of incurable but treatable illnesses. The two basketball lifers who spent countless hours together more than 25 years ago — planning the Magic’s launch as an expansion franchise — warmly check on each other now for health updates.
Nick Anderson, the first player ever drafted by the Magic and now a community ambassador for the franchise, made a strong push right away for Williams to be the first inductee into the Magic Hall of Fame. Anderson lauded Williams for being a father figure and a motivator for him, and he said there would be no Magic in Orlando if not for the legendary vision of Williams.
Pat Williams, vice-president and co-founder of the Orlando Magic, looks like the perfect picture of health. It’s not obvious that for the past year, the 72-year-old has been battling cancer. Williams, a best-selling author of nearly 80 books, motivational speaker and a marathoner who’s completed nearly 60 races, said, “I like the odds; I am going to beat this,” when told by his doctors that his chances were 70 to 75 percent. Williams and his wife Ruth are the parents of 19 adult children, including 14 who were adopted from four different countries. But, he faced his toughest challenge in 2011 when he received his diagnosis of multiple myeloma. “I’ve got a lot more life to live,” said Williams. “I’ve got more books to write, more speeches to give and all my grandchildren to educate.”
Josh Robbins: As expected, Pat Williams will be on stage for the #Magic during the @NBA draft lottery on May 21.
When he was diagnosed with cancer, Pat Williams had two choices. The one-time Bulls general manager could sit around feeling sorry for himself and spend every waking moment thinking about having multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Or he could continue with his busy life working with the Orlando Magic basketball team, writing books and jetting around the nation giving inspirational speeches. “The doctors said, ‘Go live your life, we’ll tuck the medical stuff around it,’ ” Williams said Thursday. “I don’t even think about it. I talk here, go home (Thursday night), we have a daughter graduating college on Friday, I have a talk to give in Orlando Sunday morning, etc. I don’t have time to think about (cancer), and that’s the way it should be.”
What made Dwight Howard change his mind last summer after he said in March he wanted to stay with the team? Pat Williams: “Dwight is a pleaser at heart. Deep down he really is a good guy. He had a lot invested here in eight years out of Central Florida and I think the pressure got to him. It was building and building and building. It was trade, trade and trade. As we got to the trade deadline, I think Dwight was just panic-stricken. Where was this all going to lead? The simplest way was just going to be sign this extension. I don’t think his agent had anything to do with it. I don’t think anyone would have advised him that because it was just a few months from free agency, and I just think the pressure was so great that the safest way to break it was just to sign the one-year extension and take the pressure off, and he made a little press conference and a little speech saying, ‘I love Orlando.’ Then, the next thing you know, this back injury takes place and then he disappears and we never saw him or hear from him again until the middle of the summer. We did meet with him and went out to see him and tried to convince him to stay. … It made no headway. It was not on his agenda and it turned out Brooklyn was his first choice. That all didn’t work, and finally the L.A. trade. Now he’s still a free agent after this year, so who knows what’s going to happen or where he is headed next?”
It was, of course, as Motta got into damaging feuds that led Walker to retire early and led to crippling holdouts by the likes of Love and Van Lier. The team began to break down and come apart after that 1975 playoff loss to the Warriors, and though there were brief flurries of interest with the 1977 team with Artis Gilmore and Sloan’s coached 1981 team, it wasn’t until Jordan’s arrival in 1984 that basketball began to soar again in Chicago. But if not for Williams in 1969, it might have been grounded even before it took off. “That team of Walker, Love, Boerwinkle, Sloan (and later Van Lier) put in the foundation for Chicago that this is going to be a pro basketball city and not just baseball, football and hockey,” said Williams. “To this day when I’m on the road to speak, old timers from Chicago will have vivid memories of that team. The thoughts were basketball wouldn’t work in Chicago. But that thinking evaporated and Chicago was an NBA town of good standing.”
“Pro basketball was in a very tenuous position in Chicago in that 1968-69 period,” said Williams, whom Bulls owners hired to be general manager in the summer of 1969 after a season in which one home game had an official attendance of 891. “Teams had come in over the years and none had made it. Chicago was viewed as a pro basketball graveyard. By 1968, it was again teetering big time. Fan interest was low. The ownership group was discouraged and was going to make one last effort.”
But perhaps as much as anyone, Pat Williams saved pro basketball in Chicago. It was in critical condition and facing a sporting last rites when Williams came to the Bulls to play promoter, cheerleader, innovator and executive. The result was the first great run of pro basketball in Chicago after some half dozen pro franchises had folded or left the city. The NBA’s early 1960s Packers changed their name to the Zephrys and then moved to Baltimore. Who leaves Chicago to go to Baltimore? Yes, the NBA was that close to saying its final goodbye to Chicago in 1969.
Magic VP Pat Williams reports that he is doing “wonderful” and winning his battle against multiple myeloma, booting it into remission. Williams, 72, was diagnosed with the disease early in 2011. Pat has reached yet another milestone in his long career. He joked that this June marked “50 straight years that I’ve been getting a paycheck” from a pro sports team.
David Baumann: Just had great conversation with #Magic Exec. Pat Williams who told me, “No,” when I asked if Dwight will have say in new GM and/or coach.
Williams said Van Gundy would admit that he can sometimes be too negative. And he said that while Howard has “grown up a lot” there is still room for maturation on his end. “I think this shook them both up — that’s my opinion,” Williams said of the incident last week. “I think they’re going to be better for it.”
Orlando Magic senior vice president Pat Williams, who helped found the franchise in 1989, said Monday he would like to see star center Dwight Howard and coach Stan Van Gundy both remain with the franchise for a long time. Williams said restoring the team’s health and winning would do a lot to help the franchise move past recent turmoil, capped when Van Gundy last week said that Howard wanted him fired. The coach and the star later met with Magic general manager Otis Smith, agreeing to co- exist the rest of the season and put the team first. “Finish well and then have a wonderful run in the playoffs — that would probably cure most of the issues,” Williams told The Associated Press before a scheduled speaking appearance at Michigan State University.
Orlando Magic senior vice president Pat Williams would like to see star center Dwight Howard and coach Stan Van Gundy both remain with the franchise long-term. Williams said Monday that restoring the team’s health and a deep playoff run would do a lot to help the team move forward. Williams spoke with The Associated Press before addressing a function at Michigan State Univers