NBA@2: Mo Williams Clears The Air
Last week a report surfaced that Los Angeles Clippers point guard Mo Williams was unhappy with his role in LA. According to the report, which included brief, stinted quotes from Williams himself, Mo was disgruntled about coming off the bench, perhaps even thought he should be starting in place of Chris Paul or Chauncey Billups. It seemed a little hard to believe, and very out of character for Williams. This week HOOPSWORLD caught up with Mo to get the straight scoop, and the truth is he’s not at all unhappy with his role, given that the Clippers are such a good team with him in the sixth-man role.
“When you look around the league, to be a good team you’ve got to define roles,” says Williams. “What this team wants me to do is be a spark and have energy, come in and provide scoring and leadership off the bench. For this team that’s what I’m going to do and for this team I have no problem doing it. We got a great starting point guard in Chris Paul. If I was with the Charlotte Bobcats or one of those teams, obviously, I’d be a starting point guard in the league. I am a starting point guard in this league, but for this team it’s best suited for me to be the sixth-man.”
Williams is playing in the ninth of a career that has seen him make trips to both the All-Star game and the NBA Finals, yet he admits he still has plenty to learn from great players like Paul and Billups.
“I learn from everybody, always have and always will. To be around Chauncey and Chris everyday, we learn from each other. We’re all three different point guards and I watch both and they both have very good and different characteristics. Obviously, I’m different from them, but I always try to look at some of the the things they do and implement them in my game.”
Billups may be unable to play for the Clippers, but he is still very much a part of their daily process. He texts his teammates regularly, talks to them when he can, and the team sets up a locker for him on the road just as if he were going to suit up and play. He has served as a close friend and confidante for Williams since long before they joined forced in LA.
“Yeah, I talked to him today,” says Williams. “Me and Chauncey already had that relationship before here, so I talk to him every day. We talk about more than basketball. He’ll talk to me when he’s getting ready to go under the knife (on Wednesday). I’ll talk to him after the surgery to check up on him, though I’m pretty sure he will be drugged up. But we’ll have a conversation so I can hear his voice and he can let me know he’s doing good. He’ll be back with us as soon as he can.”
Unlike most of the teams that made major changes prior to the lockout-shortened season, the Clippers have come together quickly. They’re 18-9 on the season, leading the Pacific Division, and sit just three games out of first in the Western Conference. Williams believes they have barely scratched the surface on their potential.
“The key thing is just time. The team was kind of put together so fast and knowing that we just got Kenyon … the thing is we’re still learning and as a team we’re not there yet. We’re winning games, we’re in games, and it just shows you have much talent we’ve got. But we’ve got another level we can get to; a couple, actually. We’re steadily fighting, trying to do the things we can to get over that hump and being that we’re playing so many games back-to-back it’s going to be tough. At the same time, we’re trying to get over that hump to get to that next level.”
On most any other team, Mo Williams is a starting point guard, but he also understands that the elite teams have great players coming off the bench to spark the second unit. The defending champion Dallas Mavericks have Jason Terry, the Los Angeles Lakers had Lamar Odom during their title runs, and if all goes according to plan, Williams will be the most important bench player for a Clippers team that achieves similar success.
Jamal Crawford: The Blazers Are Like My family
Blazers guard Jamal Crawford talks about his decision to play in Portland this season, the unexpected role Brandon Roy is playing in his life, the welcoming environment within the Blazers’ locker room and more in this HOOPSWORLD exclusive.
When the Dallas Mavericks signed Vince Carter before the start of the 2011-12 NBA season, it raised few eyebrows . . .except maybe those expressing skepticism. After all, Carter’s game has been in decline over the last couple of seasons, with his efficiency dipping and his scoring coming primarily through a high volume of shots. Joining a lineup that already featured big-time scorers like Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry, it was unclear how Carter would fit in with the defending NBA champs.
Now it’s clear, as Carter has proven he can still get it done at an elite level. The Mavs aren’t asking him to lead them in scoring, but he is giving them 11 points per game while shooting 46% from the field and from behind the three-point arch. In talking to Jason Terry before Wednesday night’s game against the Mavs’ sixth-man credited cryotherapy and the team’s hyperbaric chamber for Carter’s resurgence.
As it turns out, Carter agrees.
“Let me tell you, that thing is great. Both of them,” Carter said in a recent interview with Ben and Skin on ESPN radio in Dallas. “I got the opportunity to use them and I heard about them and even read up on them and now getting the opportunity to kind of utilize the facility and what we have here, it’s been great for my body. It keeps you fresh and it’s done wonders for me.”
Cryotherapy is ridiculously cold, though the treatment lasts just two minutes, but at this point Carter is ready to do whatever he has to do to extend his career.
“I feel pretty good,” said Carter. “Just taking care of my body, that’s the most important thing. Particularly with a season like this. It’s imperative that you get your rest and utilize all those things available to you. This is just another thing, I think the hyperbaric chamber has been great for me and of course cryotherapy. It’s cold. It’s cold, let me tell you, but it really works, I feel great, and it’s something that is there for us so you might as well take advantage of it and I’ve done so.”
Carter is playing well, playing with efficiency, has even hit a couple of game-winners and a number of clutch three-pointers for the team this season. It’s everything he hoped for when he agreed to sign in Dallas.
“It was a great opportunity, great basketball team,” explained Carter. “Once the lockout was lifted you’re kind of scrambling trying to find teams, to talk to teams who are interested in you and there’s always been an interest in possibly playing here. Once you get that call and weigh your options with some of the other teams, you look at the pieces to the puzzle and what they accomplished last year and I said, ‘hey, they can possibly do it again this year.’ I just wanted to be a part of that. A lot of guys here, like J-Kidd (Jason Kidd) and Brendan (Haywood), I’ve played with before at some point in my career and makes my transition easier.”
There’s a long way to go before Carter’s time in Dallas can be called a success, but he’s off to a great start. He’s proving his critics wrong, which is exactly what the Mavericks are looking to do as a team in their quest to repeat as NBA champions.
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