Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Passing Chocolate

In a quiet announcement after his current team won its first playoff game ever, Grizzlies reserve point guard Jason Williams called it quits on his 12-year NBA career. White Chocolate is 35 now, and a long way from when he sparked the Association as the ringleader for the Kings teams that looked better than they played. And here's how it looked, at least until they sent him away for Mike Bibby in a classic trade of style for substance.

In the glory years, Williams had his own shoe ad, a top 5 jersey on sales, a probable pot suspension, a component in the 13-person monster swap that eventually got him a ring with the Shaq Wade Heat. He was a reasonable three-point shooter, a defensive sieve, one of the biggest turnover generators in the league in his early days, and a solid backup in the late ones. He finishes with 10.5 points and 5.9 assists per game averages, the short-term career lead in assists as a Grizzly, and a statistical record that won't even begin to explain why he'll be remembered.

And well, that's the difference in basketball and every other sport. Because no one remembers, really, the baseball or football equivalent of Williams, because both of those sports have pretty much homogenized the game so that marginal guys like Williams can't really be all the memorable. Who, really, falls under the category of the Williams of baseball -- Jose Lima? For football, maybe it's a guy like Jim Zorn. The point is that you can't really name a guy like this, and you really can't find a video package that gets his essence... because only in basketball does the art matter this much, and only in basketball are beautiful losers remembered more than ugly winners.

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