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Jay Williams on the Bulls: "I'd love to be here"

  • Bulls Draft Central 2002
    Jay Williams Williams led Duke to 95-13 record in his 108 games, scoring over 2,000 points on only three seasons. (Duke Photo)


    Quotes from Duke guard Jay Williams at the NBA Pre-Draft media availability on June 8:

    "I hate losing and I hate when challenges are provided for me and I don’t come through. It’s just going to make me work that much harder and to keep pushing for it and to get it. That’s the kind of guy I am."

    - Jay Williams

    Question:
    What kind of offseason workouts have you been doing?

    Jay Williams:
    Just working out with various trainers to keep my conditioning and stay sharp. I’m just working on my game and trying to get better. I’m always trying to get better.

    Question:
    What kind of skills do you think you are going to bring to an NBA team?

    Williams:
    More than anything, I just want to win, wherever I go. I don’t care how we do it—if that means I take 2 shots or if that means I take 20 shots. I just want to win and I think my determination is my most valuable thing that I will bring to a team.

    Question:
    How excited are you about the process as the draft gets closer and closer and your dream is about to come true?

    Williams:
    Well, I’m very excited and this is going to be great for me. How many guys get a chance to do a job that they love to do? It’s a very fortunate thing in today’s society. I know with my parents, they both have jobs where they like to do them but they don’t love it. For me, it’s going to be great. I was going to play basketball even if I wasn’t going to be in the NBA after my college career. I’m getting a chance to do something I love to do and look forward to bringing that [attitude] to the table wherever I go.

    Question:
    What about all of the rumors that teams are trying to move up to get you—do you even think about that or concern yourself with that?

    Williams:
    No, not really. It’s difficult because sometimes it looks like I could be here or I could be somewhere else or I hear this team is trying to trade up... I don’t want to involve myself in that; I just want to have a clear state of mind and find out on June 26. Everything will be over then.

    Question:
    Are you going to be flipping through the real estate sections while you’re here in Chicago?

    Williams:
    (Laughing) I’ll start to look a little bit. It’s great because I’ll be here for a week. It’s good because when I got here [Friday] it was sunny and it hadn’t been sunny for awhile. Maybe that’s a sign, its sunny today. But I’ll be here for a week so I’m going to look around and do a little touring—you never know, it could be my new home.

    Question:
    Would [being in Chicago] be a good situation for you?

    Williams:
    This would be a great situation. In Chicago, the fan support is great. They have great players in Jalen Rose, a great veteran, and great young players in Tyson Chandler, Eddy Curry and Eddie Robinson. They have a lot of good guys. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle there and I’d love to be here. It would be a good fit.

    Jay Williams Williams said on Saturday that playing with guys like Jalen Rose, Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry would "be a great situation."
    Question:
    Do you think if you came here you could be a leader right away?

    Williams:
    I think so. I’m going to try and be a leader wherever I go. It’s my job as a point guard and it’s what I’ll be called upon to do. It’s a job I’m not scared of. We were in a room before and everyone was saying, ‘When you get drafted, you’re probably going to go to a team that’s going to lose a lot.’ Wherever I go, I’m not going to try and lose. Losing is not part of my vocabulary. I never use it at all. I’m going to try and win wherever I go.

    Question:
    Did you talk to (ex-teammate at Duke) Elton Brand about being in Chicago?

    Williams:
    I think it was definitely a tough situation for him. But Elton and I are in different positions. I’m a point guard and I’ll get a chance to do more leading and running the team while he had to have the ball fed into him. He needed someone to get him the ball so it’s different. But it had to be a struggle—to come out of a program where you are used to winning all the time and then losing a lot of games had to be difficult to do.

    Question:
    Have you talked to Elton for his feelings about the [Bulls’] organization?

    Williams:
    I haven’t really talked to Elton about that at all. People’s opinions are kind of important to me but I’d rather find out for myself. It’s like, someone might say, ‘Oh, he is a bad guy.’ You’d be shortchanging yourself if you never went and talked to him yourself. You would never know. Everyone has their own opinion of everything that goes on so I’ll just find out for myself.

    Question:
    What is your impression of the Bulls and Chicago?

    Williams:
    Like I said before, I think Chicago is great. Everything this town has been through—when Jordan was here and the team had all its success. But of course every team has its down years. Even the Lakers had their down years and now look at them; they are doing really well. Every team has to go through that rebuilding process and I think it’s been great the way the fans have stuck with them. They still pursue the best interests of the team and there are only good things to come.

    Question:
    Are you completely done with your academic career?

    Williams:
    Yes. Actually, the 26th [of June] will be a great day. Not only is it the draft, it will be my last day of final classes and I’ll be done. It will be over and I’ll be ready to step into a new world.

    Question:
    What degree will you graduate with? When did you make the decision to get it done in three years?

    Williams:
    Sociology. I didn’t really make the decision until last year. I was in a position where I could do that by staying in there and working, going to summer school and working out. It just so happened I was ahead of schedule.

    Question:
    Do you feel like you come from a program that has given you just about everything you’ve needed to this point?

    Williams:
    Yeah, Duke was a great program in preparing me, but I’ve been getting prepared my whole life. In high school, I went to a team that wasn’t supposed to be very good and we did really well my freshman year. Then we got better and better as the years went on. It was the same thing with college. My freshman year at Duke was one where we lost a lot of good players—Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, William Avery and Trajan Langdon—but we turned it around and ended up number one in the country by the end of the year. Challenges are something that I love. Every day people are providing different challenges for me and I just love it because it is another way to go out and prove people wrong.

    Question:
    Do you think you’ll experience showing your leadership skills, even when you’ll be the new kid on the block?

    Williams:
    Yeah, it’s just a thing where, of course you have to learn the traits, but Duke has prepared me really well for this. A lot of the style of games we played is just like the NBA really. We played pretty much freestyle with a lot of pick-and-roll and a lot of NBA-type offenses. Defense is something I love to play, too; that’s something I’ll love to bring to the table. In Chicago you have Jalen Rose and he’d be a great veteran by my side. I’d just try to get everybody motivated and get this city back to where it was and even better.

    Question:
    What kind of affect does your family have on your leadership?

    Williams:
    My family is great for me. I’ve got a mixture of my mother and my father’s personalities. My dad is pretty low key while my mom is more outgoing. I think it’s good because both of those transcend into different ways to relate to people. The whole thing about being a leader is that you’ve got to know what pushes certain people. Different things work. For one person it might be getting at them and another just talking to them.

    Question:
    Would coming to Chicago intimidate you knowing that you might be compared to Michael Jordan?

    Williams:
    No, I’m not Michael Jordan. Everybody should know that. So it doesn’t intimidate me at all. I love the fact that Chicago has had a lot of great success, that means the fans know how to root and they’ve had the experience of going through that. I’d just want to bring it back to where it was.

    Question:
    From a maturity standpoint, you are a long ways ahead of many of the other guys in the draft. How will that help you?

    Williams:
    First of all, I think staying that extra year in college really helped me. I got a chance to do a lot of things on my own that I would have had to do this year otherwise, which would have been really crazy with all the money and everything. College was great for me in the sense that I got to live on my own, pay my own bills and things like that. So from a living standpoint, it’s going to be really good for me because I already have some experience in doing those things.

    Basketball-wise, I had a really great year because I had everybody coming after me this year. I was the main publicized guy and that got difficult at times because you could be playing Joe Schmoe State and everyone recognizes their talent according to how they did against you. So if they scored 28, it was more like, ‘Well, I scored 28 points against Jason.’ I hear people saying that now, thinking ‘I should be going to the league’ and this and that, just because of one good game. But I like that because you have to be better prepared knowing that people are going to come at you hard.

    Question:
    Is it a foregone conclusion to you that you are going to come [to Chicago]?

    Williams:
    No, I don’t know how things are going to play out. People set one script but that script can change. Maybe it will be where Yao Ming goes to Houston and I come here and that would be great. But I don’t know how it’s going to turn out and that makes it kind of frustrating from my point of view. I’m going to look around here but I don’t want to put the draft jinx on Chicago, saying I want to come here and looking forward to that and then when draft day comes I go somewhere else.

    Question:
    So who would you take with the number one pick?

    Williams:
    (Smiling) Umm… I don’t know. The weird thing about it—being out at Duke and watching the NBA as a kid—I never really had a favorite team. I always had a couple favorite players—Michael Jordan, of course—and my favorite point guard of all-time, Isiah Thomas.

    Question:
    How do you balance using some of those leadership skills that you talked about with coming in and being a rookie?

    Williams:
    I’ll like it. It will be a challenge and I’ll have to earn the respect of people. One thing I was taught is that nothing comes to you for free. I know I’m going to have to work for everything and I’m not scared of it. In the same sense, if I go out there and dive for a loose ball people will say, ‘He’s just a rookie and he doesn’t understand.’ But that’s the way I’m going to play for my whole life, it’s the way I was taught to play and it’s the only way I know how to play. Hopefully that’s something that will carry on to the rest of the team and I can lead that way.

    Question:
    Have you looked at the make-up of the Bulls and are you confident that you’ll be able to step in and start right away?

    Williams:
    I’m confident that I can step in right away and play the role that I’m needed to play, wherever that is. If it’s not me starting, that’s fine. Like I said before, I just want to win.

    Question:
    Have you taken anything from Isiah Thomas’ game?

    Williams:
    Just his determination—his attitude and the way he fought to win. A great story for that happened when I was younger, I used to go down to the park and play basketball. I remember I had just gotten a brand new basketball and I was shooting around. Some bully just came and took it, just grabbed my ball. He started walking away and I was like, ‘What are you doing with my ball.’ He said, ‘It’s my ball now.’ I got in a fight and I actually got beat up. But it was fine and the only thing I was mad about was that he took my ball. That’s the only thing I thought about. The next year I went back and he was there and he wasn’t even shooting around with my ball, but I got my ball back anyway. I hate losing and I hate when challenges are provided for me and I don’t come though. It’s just going to make me work that much harder and to keep pushing for it and to get it. That’s the kind of guy I am.

    Question:
    Have you ever met Jalen Rose? Do you think the trade for him changed the image of the Bulls?

    Williams:
    I met Jalen one time, but I really didn’t get the chance to sit down and talk to him. But he seemed like a really good guy with a lot of positive things about him and I think he’s a great fit for Chicago. I think [the trade] definitely changed the image. It gave them that scoring threat they needed. Chicago was real good at defense before and I’d look forward to bringing defense to the table, also.

    Question:
    Was it your idea to be publicly known as ‘Jay’ instead of ‘Jason’? What kind of process was it for you to arrive at that?

    Williams:
    To be honest with you, we didn’t even do it. We didn’t even make it public. It was weird. We were all in the hotel room and my director of marketing said maybe I should think about changing my name to Jay. Not really changing it—everybody has called me Jay since I was a little kid anyway. If anyone was to say ‘Jay,’ I’d turn around and look. I thought maybe that would be a good idea with Jayson Williams going though the whole trial and then the other one (Memphis Grizzlies point guard). So I was like, maybe it would be good to differentiate myself and said it would be a good idea. Then we went out and some reporter overheard us in New York talking about it and the next day I’m on the front page of the New York Times saying I’ve changed my name to Jay. It was kind of crazy and everyone just picked up on it.

    Question:
    What does your family think about it?

    Williams:
    The only time I ever hear Jason, honestly, is if I’m in trouble. Seriously, I’ll be downstairs and my dad will be upstairs and he’ll be like, ‘Jason!’ That’s the only time I’m used to hearing Jason, around my family.