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|A member of the 2001 Duke national championship basketball team, 22 year-old guard Jay Williams quickly found success in the NBA after being drafted by the Chicago Bulls with the second overall pick of the 2002 NBA Draft. The one-time Naismith and Wooden College Player of the Year, Williams averaged 9.5 points per game and 4.7 assists per game during his rookie season, earning him a spot on the got milk? NBA All-Rookie Second Team. Sitting out this season due to injury, Williams will share his thoughts on the league and chronicle his comeback to the basketball court after a fateful motorcycle accident on June 19, 2003 left him with career-threatening injuries to his leg and pelvis.|
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Chipping Away at the Stone
Posted by Jay Williams - Mar 20 2004 9:17AM
Chipping Away at the Stone
March Madness is in full swing and the NBA Playoffs aren't too far behind. I love this time of year. I've made some major strides since the last time I posted my thoughts on NBA.com. I'm now working out in a gym, taking an endless number of jumpers as well as doing some cutting and shooting off of screens. I'm even tapping the backboard, which makes me feel like I'm back in seventh grade. It's OK because it's a sign of real progress. I'm also learning to jump on one leg again. Actually, my left quad is looking as big as my right quad, which I never thought that day would arrive. I'm also jogging backwards and even taking a Kung Fu class to work on my balance and enhance my mid-body strength.
I can't believe I'm doing all of this. It's all about confidence. When I found out I can do some of these things, I want to do more but my therapists do a good job of making sure that I don't. They actually slow me down because I'm so willing to do more and more. My therapists are actually talking about me running on the court in around two to three weeks. It's like I'm chipping away at the stone. A little by little until there's nothing left.
Dukies: Sweet 16 (Once Again)
Duke's road to the NCAA Championship got off to an impressive start, cruising past Alabama State and Seton Hall. J.J. Redick was impressive in Saturday's win over the Pirates, scoring 10 of Duke's 14 points. J.J. ended up with 17 in the first half with Duke holding a comfortable lead and never looking back. How you play in the first two games is usually a good indicator of how well you'll play for the rest of the tournament. I remember in my sophomore year we played really well in the first two games, defeating Monmouth and Missouri. Actually, Duke's bracket reminds me a lot of the path that we had to take my sophomore year. Coach K is a master at preparing his teams during the tournament. He makes every regional its own little tournament. I think the best thing about coach is that he always finds a way not to like a team. He certainly respects the other team but always seems to find a weakness, whether it's their strategy or even finding something that someone said about Duke months ago. Coach seems to find any little edge he can and when he does, it fires you up. Next up is a very underrated Illinois team that has looked impressive in their first two wins.
I Want to Hear From You!
Where ever I go, whether it's Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, even in Durham or home in New Jersey, fans have always been super supportive of my comeback attempt. People have been so unbelievably nice expressing concern for my well being and I can't tell you how much that has lifted my spirits. If it wasn't for you, I don't know how I would have advanced as much as I have. Not only am I trying to get back for myself, but I feel like I'm also fighting for those who want to see me return. Your support makes the NBA what it is, a truly special league and I can't thank you for serving as an inspiration for me.
I would love to hear from you, whether it's questions or talking about the league or my comeback attempt. Please send your questions
. I look forward to responding.
The Running Man
I know. It's been awhile but ever since returning from L.A. and the All-Star festivities, I've been so focused and determined to get back onto the court. I'm happy to report that I'm progressing really well in my rehab. For the first time, I'm able to do some light weight running on the treadmill and I ran for something like five minutes before I broke down because I was so doggone tired. But what an awesome feeling. I'm also doing a lot more running and cycling in the water. I'm even starting to feel parts of my foot again and my ankle is starting to come back around. I'm still on two a days but often times I go back during lunch to rehab some more. Sometimes I get in a little bit of trouble because I get so focused and pumped up to do things that I may over do it a little bit. So, I have to be careful.Posted by Jay Williams - Mar 12 2004 2:38PM
Freeing Up Cap Space
Since the Bulls are struggling, you can understand them wanting to free up some cap room to aggressively go after some players. Since I violated my contract, which wasn't the smartest thing on my part, the team wanted flexibility in moving forward. Even though the organization and I came to terms, I still feel part of the team even though I'm not playing with them this season. They're still a bunch of great guys but business is business and they had to do what they had to do to make themselves better. I understand that and it has nothing to do with our friendship. I would like to return to the Bulls in my comeback attempt but you have to wait and see how the ball is going to bounce because with Kirk Hinrich and Jamal Crawford, they're in a good situation with their guards. It all depends on what the team needs are and if they'll want me when I'm ready to return. Time will tell. I can't say enough about John Paxson and the entire organization for sticking with me during my recovery. The easiest thing would have been to drop me like a hat and move on but they didn't. They're still very much a part of my life in my attempt to return to the court.
I'll be attending the ACC Tourney in Greensboro to check out Duke. Every where I go, people ask me how they'll do in the NCAA Tournament. It's difficult to say. While I like their chances, it seems this year's tourney is pretty wide open. It seems like everyone is beating everyone these days. Case in point: Duke lost to Georgia Tech not to long ago. You wonder if this will be the year of Cinderella. I'll be living and dying with Duke as they march toward San Antonio.
Arriving in Los Angeles for NBA All-Star 2004 as a broadcast journalist wasn't exactly what I had envisioned last season when I played in the Rookie Challenge in Atlanta. My goal was to return here as a player and compete in this year's Rookie Challenge and ultimately the NBA All-Star Game. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to this season but I'm grateful for the opportunity NBA Entertainment gave me to serve as a correspondent for NBA TV. Not only am I able to enjoy the All-Star experience but broadcast journalism is one of my future goals and this gives me a great opportunity to sharpen my on-air skills. However, as much as I enjoy the work, it isn't something I'm ready for right now. I want to be on the court. That's where I belong. Posted by Jay Williams - Feb 14 2004 3:51PM
Asking players questions at the Rookie Challenge practice yesterday morning was certainly different for me, especially since I'm so accustomed to being on the receiving end. I had a good time interviewing the rookies and sophomores. I felt my job was made easy because I was able to ask the players questions about how their emotions were heading into the game and I based a lot of it on how my emotions would be as if I were playing. Yet, it was difficult knowing that in the back of mind that I wasn't playing. I would much rather have someone ask me the questions.
This weekend was a reunion of sorts for me. I haven't seen a lot of guys since my accident, especially Mike Dunleavy and Carlos Boozer. The last time they saw me, I was in a walker struggling to get up and down. It was good to see them and to receive such a warm reaction not only from those two but from the other players as well. It's weird how you compete against everybody on a day-to-day basis but when it comes down to it, everyone is a really good guy and everybody wants everybody to succeed.
It was exciting to see some of the new talent up close such as LeBron and Carmelo. Those players have received a lot of hype but they are great players and I wish them great success. But I really wanted the opportunity to compete against them.
Sitting on the Sophomore bench during the game was overall a positive experience for me but it certainly hurt at times. Players such as Carlos, Mike and Flip Murray made it a little easier by making me feel a part of the team. Sitting so close to the action certainly made me that much hungrier to get back to the court.
My emotions were flaring as I left the arena last night. I was experiencing so many different thoughts and feelings. Basketball is something I've always want to do since I was a little boy. I remember I got into trouble when I spray painted the word -- Bulls -- on a fence and I told my mom that I wanted to play for them one day. To work so hard every day of my life to get to this level and to actually get drafted by the Bulls was a dream come true. As I saw LeBron play last night, I flashed back to last season when I scored 24 on the Cavaliers and LeBron was in the stands watching. I was playing against Milt Palacio at the time but I was pretending that I was playing against LeBron because I was looking forward to the competition.
As difficult as it is to watch my peers play, this whole experience is serving as extra motivation for me when I return to Durham as I resume my rehab. Sometimes it's easy to lose focus for a little bit during the rehab process because it is such a grind. As bittersweet as this weekend is for me, it is ultimately the best thing for me.
When I spoke to my agent this morning, I told him that this All-Star experience isn't my last hurrah. Some way, some how, I am going to play and return to All-Star Weekend. No matter how long it takes, I'm going to be out there. Count on it.
All-Star Snubs?Posted by Jay Williams - Feb 5 2004 10:53AM
A lot of people were surprised that LeBron and Carmelo were not among the NBA All-Star reserves when the league announced the East-West teams on Tuesday. I really wasn't. Both players are certainly having great seasons but they're also rookies and they ended up taking a backseat to the veterans when it came down to the roster spots. It's really uncommon to see a rookie become an All-Star unless he gets voted on the team by the fans like Yao did last year. There's a process of paying your dues in the NBA and I think the coaches voting reflected that. It's no different when you're playing. If you're a rookie, you won't get the same calls a veteran will receive because you haven't done you're full turn in the league yet. I hate to say it but that's just the way it is. The key is not to get frustrated but to work that much harder.
I think the feeling with LeBron and Carmelo is that they are great players and there time will definitely come. They'll have plenty of opportunities to make the All-Star teams in the future.
In reviewing my All-Star ballot, I noticed two glaring omissions, players I think are certainly more than deserving to be playing in L.A. on February 15. The two players that top my list are Carlos Boozer and Stephon Marbury. Carlos has been on an incredible double-double roll this last month and has really helped the Cavs recent resurgence. He's emerged as one of the most dominant inside players in the East. If the Cavs can make the playoffs, he'll be one of the main reasons. I think Stephon got hurt by the timing of the trade to the Knicks. Otherwise, how do you explain him not being selected? I love Steph's game and whether he's in the East or West, it shouldn't matter, he's one of the most dominant point guards in the game today and he should be on the team.
As of Monday, my rehab schedule has now been bumped up from one session a day to two. Here's a peak at my routine.
9:00-1:00 --- Weight Lifting/Therapy Session
Every morning I arrive slightly before 9 at one of the buildings on Duke's campus to begin my rehab. The first thing I do is lift weights for about an hour before I do any work on my knee. I then have my knee massaged for 40 minutes, which is my favorite part by the way. Unfortunately, my least favorite part of the rehab follows right after and that's when the therapists try to bend it. Man, that really hurts.
The next step focuses on doing various exercises that will strengthen my knee and quad. I work on a quad-hamstring machine where you sit on a chair and your upper body is in a harness and they strap your leg up, which pushes up your quad and pulls back your hamstring. This gives you a lot of resistance. I'm doing that with my leg for about 20-25 minutes or so.
After that, I'm doing other exercises for my knee and quad such as leg presses, toe raises, lunges, different things to stretch my legs. One specific exercise features a huge rubber band, which is tied to a pole, and allows me to work on my knee's resistance as far as walking against it and pulling it.
After I'm finished with that, I'm working on the elliptical or stair master to get a cardio workout. This is usually the last part of my morning session workout before I break for lunch and have a cool down period, which involves icing my knee. I usually leave the building around 1 or so.
3:00-5:00 More Therapy/Agility Focus
The afternoon session involves another prolonged session of bending my knee as well focusing on a lot of agility exercises that will improve my foot speed.
With the two-a-days, I'm obviously a lot more tired. My rehab session before wasn't easy but I got into a routine where I could handle it. Now, two-a-days is like a 9-5 job. But as long as I'm making progress, that's all that matters.
Brooklyn NetsPosted by Jay Williams - Jan 24 2004 7:03AM
Being a Jersey guy, I've been pretty disappointed by the fact that the Nets haven't sold out their home games, especially since they have been such a good team, making the playoffs every year and having a chance to win the NBA title the last two. Hopefully, the move to Brooklyn will be a good one. I don't know how Brooklyn is going to do in terms of fan support but hopefully wherever they go, they'll do better than they did here.
It's been hard to watch the Bulls struggle. John Paxson, who is a really good guy and who is becoming a good GM, had to let a couple of players go in Jalen Rose and some other guys and really lost a lot of scoring power where now Jamal Crawford is becoming the main scoring threat. They picked up Antonio Davis and Jerome Williams, the Junk Yard Dog, who needs to get a lot of rebounds. It's been difficult. Scottie Pippen has been hurt, a lot of their veteran leaders have been hurt, plus they have a really young team. Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler are just 20 -- they're not even 21 yet -- they're still finding out that they're becoming men ... I talk to Jamal on the phone often and there is a lot of pressure on him to score but it has to be hard playing when there are rumors about you being traded and I really commend him for sticking it through, staying positive. The Bulls are in position where their record is 12 and 30 and we were better at the half way point last year than they are this year. They'll have to keep fighting and hopefully they'll improve.
Comeback -- Timetable
Hopefully, some time next year, I can return to the court. I can't say exactly when, whether it's the beginning of the season or end or middle but hopefully by next year it's really going to let me know if I can do it or not.
I took a quick break from rehab and came home to Plainfield, New Jersey for a couple of days before I head back to Durham this weekend to resume my workouts. I also took some time to visit the NBAE Studios in Secaucus. It's been great coming back, seeing old friends and faces. From being in the bed for two months and rehabbing for the past five where every day you're doing the same tedious and monotonous things -- to get a break from that and to kind of get some of your life back has been a great thing for me. Rehab has become my life and it will continue to be my life for awhile until I come back. My arm's in the pool right now, I'm trying to throw the rest of my body in there but it's going to take some time.
Leap of Faith/Jay's All-Stars
LEAP OF FAITHPosted by Jay Williams - Jan 16 2004 7:07PM
Things are going very well. I'm making progress every day. I even jumped for the first time in a long while ... I'm still running on the elliptical machine and kind of busted out into a little jog on the treadmill, so that's where I've been the last couple of days ... I'm really excited because I'm doing new things ... I was a little apprehensive about jumping since I haven't done so in about seven or eight months and all of sudden just to try to jump again was a huge moment, especially given everything my leg went through ... It's been recommended that I don't jump for awhile but at least I can always say that I did it ... Confidence breeds confidence ... When I'm in the environment where I can see that I can do one little thing, it makes me much more capable to do something else ... It's been great. There have definitely been times where the rehab has been slow and there have been times where things have progressed rather quickly. ... Overall, I'm really making huge gains in the last couple of weeks, which is very uplifting.
Looking ahead to next week ... I'm doing a lot more stuff agility-wise such as working with a band around my waist and moving in different ways. I'll be doing more of that ... The rehab is getting more competitive in terms of my daily goals and I look forward to the continued progress. I just need to take things day by day.
With All-Star voting drawing to a close this Sunday, I was taking a look at the ballot to determine who I think should make the trip out to L.A. next month and there are lots of deserving choices ... In the East, it's hard to argue with a Jason Kidd-Allen Iverson backcourt tandem. Those guys are All-Stars every season, consistently elevating their teams on a daily basis and this season is no different. Although the Magic aren't where they would like to be, T-Mac is still having another great overall season, especially during this recent stretch ... At the forward position, I'm going to biased --- Carlos Boozer of the Cavs -- deserves a spot on the East team. Even though I'm best friends with him, his numbers are there (13 points and 10 rebounds per game) not to mention the intangibles in what he brings to the team. You certainly can make the case that he's the most underrated player in the league ... I would love to see K make the team and think he should make it. K-Mart works hard and he's a great guy. It's a tough call at the forward spot because you also have Jermaine O'Neal, who's playing great, and Vince Carter who is also enjoying a nice season. Certainly there's room for all of those forwards on the East squad. ... Ben Wallace deserves the nod at center ... I had a chance to play with Ben and the thing that I love about him is that there are some guys out there who always try to expand their roles, who always think they can do more than what they really can. Ben knows what his strengths are --- rebounding, blocking shots and passing --- scoring is like a fourth option for him. He's a great guy to play with because he adopts a team-first attitude. Who doesn't want to play with this guy? ... He reminds me a lot of Dennis Rodman, although he's not as arrogant as Dennis and certainly not as theatrical but Big Ben is similar to him in that he works his butt off.
Go West ... Kobe is an easy pick at one guard spot and Steve Francis certainly deserves strong consideration at the other but I would also like to see Steve Nash make the team. He's one of the more underrated point guards in the NBA and an invaluable member of the Mavs ... KG and T.D are automatics at the forward position plus add Shaq in the pivot and what an imposing front line ... all seven-footers ... I like Yao and he's starting to show great strides, especially recently, but I think you go with the Shaq in the middle. It will be interesting to see when the final voting tallies come out if Yao pulls together enough votes to surpass Shaq. At last glance, the latest returns showed Yao trailing by 24,000 or so votes ....
MVP candidates you ask? With roughly 40 or so games already in the books this season, KG and Kobe stand alone on my list ... Garnett is Mr. Everything for the Timberwolves and has led them on an incredible run these last 20 games ... Have you seen who's atop of the Midwest Division recently? ... Kobe is amazing and despite all of the distractions, still manages to play at an incredibly high level ... I hope he returns soon to the court and so do the Laker fans out there.
Running Again/Duke Family
REHAB UPDATEPosted by Jay Williams - Jan 9 2004 7:15PM
The rehab is going great. I'm actually running on an elliptical [machine] right now, which is awesome because I can get my body like I'm running. I'm actually breaking a sweat. I've been drained because the last two days they've been having me run the elliptical for around 7-9 minutes and I've been totally pooped because I haven't run in about seven months but it's been awesome.
THE DUKE FAMILY
The Duke family has been terrific, they've been by my side the whole time. Whether it's using the gym, their facilities or calling my friend Johnny Dawkins and talking to him, which I do almost every other day. I also see Coach whenever he has time. Everyone has been giving me great support and everybody is always pulling for me around here in Durham.
COACH K INFLUENCE
Coach has stopped by my house a couple times in giving me talks and we talk about my career, about the Bulls and about where I should be and where he thinks I shouldn't be. He's given me advice about how my injuries are going to take time and it's something that you can't rush and when your body is ready to be back at full force, your body's going to ready to be back at full force. It's hard for him now because he's really been traveling a lot with the team and he's really busy with season going on but he always makes time to say hello and see how I'm doing.
STEPH COMES HOME
I got real excited to see Steph come home. Steph has always been one of my favorite players in the NBA. For him being from the Coney Island and to see him going back to his homeland in New York City, is great. That's the big dance and that's where he needs to be and I think he'll fit in very well within their system. I'm happy for him.
It's going to take some time for the Knicks to gel, but they have a nice little thing together with Steph and Keith [Van Horn] and they got a nice team. It's going to take some time but I think they'll represent New York better than before.
Sweet Home, Chicago
It was a great experience returning to Chicago. It was something at one time hurt but at the same time brought joy. It hurt in a sense that I wasn't there playing but it brought joy being around my teammates, being back at the United Center, seeing everybody and hearing the cheers that I had once lived for and hopefully will again in the future. It was great to be back at my old apartment. I haven't seen that in awhile. I also saw a lot of my friends on my visit. It was a great time. I loved it. Posted by Jay Williams - Jan 2 2004 6:55PM
The Road Back - Rehab Update
The rehab is going well. I should be going back down to North Carolina in two days (Sunday) to start the next phase. When I get back down there, it's going to be about walking. I'm walking on one crutch right now and should be without crutches within two weeks. So, I look forward to that. After that, it's about getting my legs stronger, working on my flexibility a little bit more and just trying to walk, then jog and then start running.
Thank You for the Support
I want thank everyone for their tremendous support, which has really carried me. The cards, the letters, the words of encouragement from so many different people really inspires me to work more each day to keep fighting harder. Sometimes, I get down on myself but at the same I know I can't because I'm also fighting for everyone who is supporting me. Give me a little time and hopefully when I come back, I'll be the same player I was before, if not better because I'll be smarter.