On Friday night, Shawne Williams of the New York Knicks got into a fistfight with Marvin Williams of the Atlanta Hawks with only seconds to go in the fourth quarter of a game that was in essence, already decided, evoking memories of Jeff Van Gundy holding onto Alonzo Mourning's leg for dear life in 1998.
"Coming across half court, he bumped me, I bumped him and he mushed me in the back of the head. I wasn't going to fight him. I wanted to let him know I wasn't backing down. For him to swing at me, that's different. I feel I didn't swing back and restrained myself," Shawne Williams stated after the game.
Earlier in the contest, Marvin Williams had rolled into Amar'e Stoudemire's leg, which caused Amar'e to lie on the court as the game kept going around him. It did not look intentional, but the fact that the game continued made the Knicks upset heading into the fourth quarter. Shawne Williams had had a fairly good night, scoring 12 points in a season-high 43 minutes. Things turned ugly when Marvin Williams shoved him from behind, and fists began to fly. Even if Shawne did not throw any punches, he was still in the thick of things, and did respond with a shove back and continued to run around the perimeter of the court pointing at Marvin as referees, players and coaches all attempted to restore order.
This is not Shawne Williams' first time in trouble however; something which will inevitably hamper his case that he is the victim. On Sept. 11, 2007, Williams was arrested in Indianapolis for possessing marijuana. Two other people who were with him were also arrested, one for the same infraction, and one for possession of a stolen handgun. Needless to say, serious charges all around, especially when you are in the NBA. Strike one.
Williams, who had been drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 2006 was traded to the Dallas Mavericks the next year. After appearing in only 15 games with Dallas and being asked to leave the team, he was traded to the New Jersey Nets in 2010, who cut him four days after acquiring him. He was booked into the Shelby County Jail on drug charges the same day he was waived by the Nets.
In Jan. 2010, Williams was arrested in Memphis on felony drug charges for selling a codeine substance and was subsequently put on probation. Strike two.
Then came a break. Then-Charlotte Bobcats coach Larry Brown give Williams a chance to make the Bobcats' summer league team. Although Williams already had a bad rap, Brown was friendly with John Calipari, his college coach at Memphis, and had also seen Williams could be successful at the NBA level after his rookie campaign with the Indiana Pacers.
After making the summer league team, Williams was offered two invitations for training camp; one with the Bobcats, and one with the New York Knicks. Williams chose the Knicks because Madison Square Garden was the last place his brother, who had been murdered, had seen him play. On Sept. 23, 2010, New York signed him to a one-year contract.
Now comes January 28, 2011, 12 months since he was last in trouble with the law, Williams may now be in trouble with the NBA. Should he be suspended? Fined? Absolutely. Will he get a tougher punishment because of his past? Probably. Hopefully Williams will learn from this, and get a fourth chance to behave himself while in the public eye. After all, everything in New York is magnified much more than in Indiana.