Williams’ Comeback Trail Heads Through Boston

By Peter F. Stringer
June 19, 2006

WALTHAM - Three years ago today, Jay Williams almost lost his life, could have lost his leg, and may have lost his career, when he crashed his new motorcycle into a pole in Chicago.

Jay Williams
Jay Williams heads for the hoop during free agent workouts in Waltham Monday.

Now he's trying to reclaim his NBA career, barnstorming around the country's NBA franchises on a workout tour that's already brought him to Philadelphia, Toronto, New Jersey, Memphis and Phoenix. Monday, he took part in the first day of a two-day free agent camp at The Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint as he attempted to demonstrate to the Celtics brass that he has what it takes to resurrect his career.

"Somebody's going to have to take a chance on me, and for the last two years I've been hearing about what I can't do, which is fine, because that drives me with the motivation to prove everybody wrong," Williams said.

Known for his speed and explosiveness as a rookie when he averaged 9.5 points and 4.7 assists for the Chicago Bulls, Williams is now redefining his game as he attempts to prove himself to NBA personnel. And he knows that even if he is able to make a comeback, he may not be the same guy he was as an NBA rookie.

"I'm going to be a guy who's going to try to get my nine or 10 assists a game, get guys the ball in the right situation, and be a coach on the floor," said Williams. "Only being 24, I feel like I play like a 30-year old. The game is a lot slower to me. I know what I can do; I can pass the ball, knock down open jump shots and create when I have to."

Williams was one of 17 free agents who played in 16-minute games (consisting of two eight-minute halves) Monday morning, as the Celtics look to assemble a team for the Vegas Summer League in July. According to Rivers, of the players in attendance, at least a few of them have a shot at potentially making the team next season.

Rivers wasn't naming names, but he did weigh in on Williams and his comeback bid.

"He played pretty well, he played in spurts. You can see, [he's] a little rusty. But you can also see that he plays with his mind far more than he did before," said Rivers. "His athleticism is no longer where it once was, but his feel [for the game] is off the charts, you can see that. He can run the pick and roll at half speed if he wanted to. He's quicker than that, but if he did, he could still score or get a score for someone."

Williams wouldn't mind trying to set up Paul Pierce next season.

"Playing alongside Paul Pierce would be a dream come true. I played with him in the World Games and we had a phenomenal time playing together," said Williams.