An Interview with Walt Williams

Story and Photo Courtesy of the Cammay Group | 12/23/2009, 3:03 p.m.

Former NBA star Walt Williams will be on hand for the first Maryland National Hoops Classic, a high school €March Madness€ style basketball tournament to be held at Henry A. Wise High School from Dec. 28-30. Williams played for the Sacramento Kings, Miami Heat, Portland Trailblazers, Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors and Dallas Mavericks. Classic officials caught up with Williams to talk basketball.

Maryland National Hoops Classic: Walt €The Wizard€ Williams, you were in the NBA for eleven years€that€s a long time these days. What do you think helped to prepare you for the life of a professional basketball player?

Walt Williams: I have to give a lot of the credit to the coaches that I played for in terms of honing my skills, but when it come to €life€ as a pro athlete, I must say that my family, friends and the community prepared me by making sure that I always stayed humble. When you enter into the life of a professional athlete you are given a lot of special treatment. You can either go overboard with it or keep it in perspective.

MNHC: Today your hometown of Prince George€s County, MD is considered by ESPN to be the €Hot bed€ for basketball. How do you feel about this?

Walt Williams: I think it€s great that Prince George€s County has finally been recognized nationally, and I am really happy to be a part of the Maryland National Hoops Classic. This type of national exposure is truly deserved for our players, coaches, schools and the community. But honestly, I have played around the world and other areas pale in comparison to the caliber of players that we have always had in our neighborhoods on a consistent basis.

So, you went out for the team during your high school years, at Crossland. Who was your most fierce competitor in High School?

Walt Williams: I would say Henry Hall, from Parkdale, H.S., Mike Tate from Oxon Hill H.S. and Byron Tucker, from Potomac H.S. and Jay Bias, from Northwestern H.S.

You stated earlier that you never played for the Boys and Girls Club. Why?

Walt Williams: I don€t really know, I think I had a lot of exposure to basketball. When I was growing up basketball was really big as a neighborhood pick-up game. I wasn€t a real tall kid until I went to high school. In high school I grew eight inches. I think that was when people began to notice me.

MNHC: Basketball became a huge part of your life, how do you see young boys and girls today figuring basketball into their lives?

Walt Williams: I never had any idea that I could be an NBA player as a high school student. I always thought NBA players came from €somewhere else.€ It never was a remote reality for me until the day I saw Len Bias get drafted. Today there are so many role models from our community, but the reality is still they are the exception. As someone who loves the game of basketball, I would tell anyone not to let it totally consume your world to the point that you begin to believe that it is your only possible vehicle for success. I am proud to talk to kids and let them know that I came from the same place as them. I encourage them to live their dreams because all things are possible.

MNHC: Walt, can you give our kids a 10 second commercial using words that you have lived your life by?

Walt Williams: I would you say, €There is no substitute for hard work and determination, because the payoff will always make you a better person.

MNHC: Who was your fiercest competitor in the NBA?

Walt Williams: First, let me go on record to say that I think Michael Jordan was and still is the greatest basketball player ever, but because my offensive skills outshined my defense, my coaches never matched me up against him. I would say Scottie Pippen was my fiercest competitor because he was so long and so quick that he was tougher for me to score against, but I am sure I still dropped at least 20 points on him in a game.

MNHC: Now that your NBA playing career is behind you, how do you stay connected to the sport?

Walt Williams: After retiring from the NBA, I was the post game analyst for the Washington Wizards. Today I am a radio analyst for CBS Sports Group for the Maryland Terps.