Remembering Jason Williams brings back fond memories.
Check that; remembering White Chocolate brings back fond memories.
Jason Williams is the guy with two bad knees, the solid offensive point guard who couldn’t stay in front of my aunt if she wanted to drive to the hoop. He’s the player who helped the Miami Heat win the title in 2006.
Actually, "helped" might be the wrong word. It was more like the Miami Heat won a title in spite of having Williams as their starting point guard.
Jason Williams is bland, boring, and normal.
But White Chocolate? Williams’ alter ego, the player he used to be when he played for the Sacramento Kings, was a sight to behold on the basketball court.
He was never an elite point guard but, to me, a young fan looking for some exciting basketball, that never mattered. White Chocolate kept you on the edge of your seat, always ready for a highlight reel play, always waiting for his next great pass.
White Chocolate was unafraid to pull up for three on a three-on-two fast break. He was unafraid to throw around-the-back passes in traffic, and he certainly had no problem running and gunning for the exciting Kings.
With White Chocolate, it wasn’t a matter of if a highlight was going to happen, it was a matter of when.
He was a brash, cocky kid from West Virginia who grew up playing basketball with Randy Moss. He’d been kicked off his college team at Florida for smoking marijuana, but not before he made a lasting impression on all Gators fans, drawing comparisons to Pistol Pete Maravich for his flashy play and flair for dramatic showmanship.
Despite his off-court troubles, White Chocolate was drafted seventh by the Kings in the 1998 NBA Draft. From there, he took off running, becoming an instant hit in the NBA world.
For a few years at the beginning of his career, White Chocolate was the most colorful on-court performer in the NBA. Everyone remembers the off-the-elbow pass in the Rookie All-Star game, but White Chocolate made memorable plays like that every game.
He would make at least one play every night that would leave you scratching your head, wondering to yourself not only, “How the hell did he do that?” but also, “How the hell did he even have the balls to try that?”
Then, as quickly as White Chocolate entered the NBA scene, he was finished, morphing back into plain old Jason Williams. I blame former Memphis Grizzlies coach Hubie Brown for neutering White Chocolate. Under Brown’s tutelage, Williams became a more efficient point guard and a better player.
But he no longer showed the flashes of brilliance, no longer completed plays that no other player would attempt.
Williams, after being basketball’s greatest showman, became just another player. He was content to walk the ball up the floor, reluctant to pull the trigger on fast break threes, and satisfied with making normal bounce passes to his teammates.
Now, Williams has come out of retirement to sign with the Orlando Magic. I’m not sure what they see in him, and I don’t know why they signed him. With his old, creaky knees, I don’t see Williams being much help to any contender.
I know the Magic need a backup point guard desperately, but if I were their GM I would have gone in another direction.
Still, his signing brought back a lot of nostalgia, just not for Jason Williams—for White Chocolate.