One-on-One with Scott Williams

by Jeramie McPeek
VP, Digital
By Steven J. Koek,
Posted: Sept. 2, 2008

The newest addition to the Suns broadcast team is as familiar with the team and city as its fans are with him. Former Suns big man Scott Williams was Amare Stoudemire’s first mentor during his Rookie-of-the-Year season of 2002-03 and has remained a fan of STAT and the team ever since.

Following broadcast stints in Milwaukee and Cleveland, Williams returns to the Valley as a television analyst, where he will be primarily teamed up with Tom Leander for Suns’ road games on My45. caught up with Williams to talk about his journey since leaving the Suns and his role in returning to the organization as one of its mouthpieces. Fans will remember you from your playing days in Phoenix, but you have been a part of the community ever since. How gratifying is it be the newest part of the Suns’ broadcasting team?

Suns broadcaster Scott Williams: This is where I’ve made my home the last six years. I’ve been a season ticket holder for the Suns for as long as I can remember. When I played for them and since I’ve left, I’ve had my tickets. I haven’t been able to go to as many games as I’ve liked over the last year or two because I’ve been going back and forth to the Midwest with jobs in Cleveland and Milwaukee.

At the same time, I’ve always supported the Suns. I catch them on TV whenever I possibly can and I’ve still got a lot of affection for Amare (Stoudemire) and Leandro Barbosa, guys that I played with I was on the squad. I know Steve Nash, Shaq, Boris Diaw and Grant Hill from competing against those guys. So, even though I’ve been retired for three years and out of the Valley for five, I’ve got a lot of ties to this area. What are your memories as a Suns player?

Williams: It was a terrific time. I had an opportunity to experience a side of the game in the NBA that I had yet to enjoy. When I first came into the league I was fortunate enough to have a lot of guys who were professionals around me. I’m talking about guys like Bill Cartwright, who is now an assistant coach here with the Suns, John Paxson, and Michael Jordan. Those guys showed me how to be pros, and that was the knowledge I wanted to pass on to Amare and some of the other guys that I had an opportunity to be around in Phoenix.

It’s not always just about going out there and playing on game day. It’s practices, it’s attention to details, it’s eating right, it’s being on time, it’s being a true pro in some many different senses of the word that I wanted these guys to understand. It’s a game that, if you treat it right, can be so much more rewarding than just scoring points and grabbing rebounds. After serving as a mentor for Amare his first season in the league, what has it been like for you to watch him mature over the years?

Williams: It’s been fantastic. Unfortunately, you get caught up in the NBA world and get pulled in so many different directions. Even though I live in the city, he’s got his family, my kids are growing, and I’m traveling back and forth, we don’t stay in touch as much as we’d like to over the past several years.
I bumped into him at the Cardinal’s first preseason game and it was like no time had passed. Big hugs and I told how proud I was of all that he’s accomplished. He told me some of the things he’s been doing, he asked about my kids. The thing about sports, especially team sports, is that camaraderie that you build. It’s not a constant contact that you have to be in with somebody. The memories of being in the trenches, battling in practices, playing in the games, being out on the road when all the fans are against you, and you get those 12 guys in the huddle that makes it extremely special. Those are the bonds you share that, quite frankly, last a lifetime.

When Amare came to the squad, I had heard he had a bit of a rough upbringing and had been to a lot of different high schools. But I didn’t care much about that. I judge people on their own merit and to Amare’s credit, he came in here and he was a true professional. I didn’t have to teach him things that he was doing right from wrong. He was already doing things right, he just needed guidance. He had a fine work effort.

I remember he was coming off the bench for Tom Gugliotta, who was the starting forward at the time, and he just had a thirst to be the best. He learned from Googs, he learned from me, and we knew it wasn’t going to be long before he would be the starting power forward and he would go on to do great things in this league, just because of the way he approached everything, from soaking up the big man meetings, to being the first on the practice court and the last to leave.

He would grab me after practice saying, “Scott, can you help me? I’m struggling a little bit trying to defend some of these post moves.” Little things like that. He would ask me about Jordan on the plane, what his work ethics were like, what his mental attitude was. He was just a sponge with everything we were trying to do as a team.

I think that’s why we had so much more success in 2002-03 than most people thought we could have and we surprised a lot people when we made the playoffs. We lost to San Antonio in six games, but won the first game out there as Amare hit a three-pointer to send it to overtime and then Stephon Marbury hit the shot to win it in overtime. Then Jake Voskuhl hits a turn-around jumper to win a game back home, so it was one of those special things. We didn’t care who got the credit, from Penny Hardaway to Marbury to Shawn Marion to Stoudemire to Voskuhl, it didn’t matter. That was a special team that we had. Your first broadcasting job was as a television analyst for a Mercury game. What do you remember about that experience?

Williams: It was something I had always dreamt about trying to do. My goal initially was to play a couple of years and then get a radio or TV gig. It worked out extremely well for me to be able to do that game. The thing I really benefited from was that I had Al McCoy be kind of enough to break down the video with me a couple of days later. He told me some of the things I did really well, and areas where I struggled and needed to improve. I took notes, wrote everything down. I had a Hall of Fame broadcaster giving me instructions while I was still playing, that’s a tremendous advantage.
Then I started doing some playoff work with the local NBC station in Phoenix with Marc Curtis and Tom Zenner, who helped me out. The really big break I got was my final year in Cleveland. I was not playing a whole lot towards the end of the season, and the media relations director, Amanda Marcado, came up to me to ask if I had interest in helping out FSN Arizona with their pregame show, giving them my thoughts on the game, the pulse of the team, that sort of stuff.

They were going to use a different player every game, but when I did it the first time, they liked what I did and asked if I wouldn’t mind doing it every time. I had nothing else to do, so I said, “Sure.” (Laughs) So I started doing that and got really good at it and they used a little graphic called, “Wisdom with Williams,” and I would give my two- or three-minute keys to victory or other thoughts on the game. Then that year, Mark Price was doing the analyst work for the Cavaliers and he decided he was not going to come back. So the next year, I was doing 40 games for the Cavs. Calling the action for LeBron James is quite a job. He’s a Michael Jordan-type player.

Cleveland, let’s not get it wrong, will always be a Browns city. They love their football there, but LeBron has done some amazing things there and the balance has certainly choked it up a little in the Cavs’ favor. That building is so electric with all the things they’ve got going on there in the arena, like the Suns. It’s just a tremendous building to go watch a game in. What was your first reaction in hearing about the broadcast opening left by Dan Majerle’s move to the coaching staff?

Williams: I jumped all over it. I had first heard rumors about it. Dan and I are partners in his Majerle’s venture in Chandler, so I kind of had the inside scoop over some of the competition after Dan said he was going to talk to Terry (Porter) about an assistant coaching position. I was excited about the possibility. I had been waiting a long time for either Dan or Eddie Johnson, who I think both did a tremendous job, I thought they would leave for a national gig. I didn’t think coaching was the way they wanted to go and the situation opened up that way for me. So with Thunder getting the coaching job, we got the best of both worlds. We get to keep him around, obviously for selfish reasons, we like having him here, but it also opened up an opportunity for me now to get on television here and have some fun with that. How will your schedule work this season?

Williams: The way they’ve broken it down is that Tom and I will be doing most of the road games. Then Eddie and Gary (Bender) will work most of the home games. I’ve talked to Tom, we’ve been to the Suns basketball camp this summer already. We’re very excited about the opportunity of working together. I used to team up with him on some of the Suns Undercover arena features. We did a skit called “Tiger Williams” and I was golf instructor at one of the gold courses, which was probably the funniest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Let’s put you to work right away and have you break down your thoughts about the upcoming season.

Williams: I think Steve Kerr has done a fantastic job in a short period of time for a relatively young general manager. They’ve put together a team that’s not only built to succeed this year, but has got some strengths moving forward in the future, as well. I think Grant Hill showed he’s got a lot of heart, desire and a lot left in the tank. Of course, Amare and Steve Nash, First Team All-NBA. Shaquille O’Neal, although let’s face it, he’s slowed down a bit since his days when he was 25, is still a force to be reckoned with down on the block. He’s going to command attention from a lot of different people. It’s a tough matchup for teams who have to expend a lot of energy preparing for.