Pat Williams, Nick Anderson Grateful to be Part of 2019 Florida Sports HOF Class
Williams, Anderson will both be enshrined on Nov. 12 at Amway Center
ORLANDO - Pat Williams, then the Magic’s general manager who not long before spearheaded the team’s NBA arrival, still remembers the way the 1989 NBA Draft played out.
Williams, a few weeks before the draft took place, had heard rumors that Nick Anderson, a 6-foot-6 junior at Illinois, was considering declaring for the draft that year.
Doing his due diligence, Williams brought Anderson down to Orlando for a last-minute workout and a meeting. It went extremely well, and the longtime executive was excited about the idea of selecting Anderson should he be on the board when the Magic were on the clock.
“We knew as that draft was unfolding – our first draft ever – we knew that that was the guy we wanted,” Williams remembers. “I never will forget, we had our guy up there monitoring the draft and we were nervous because Minnesota had the pick right in front of us and I can still hear our guy up in New York whispering down to us saying ‘they’re taking Pooh Richardson, they’re taking Pooh Richardson.’”
Anderson, whom the Magic enthusiastically selected 11th overall, was grateful that Williams and the Magic organization thought so highly of him. He was eager to get to work and show everyone that the Magic made the right decision.
From that point on, Williams and Anderson formed a close bond. Williams’ wisdom helped Anderson mature as a person and become the best player he could be during his 10 seasons with the Magic, while Anderson’s hard work and consistency made it easier for Williams to build a championship contending team.
“He had a marvelous career here,” Williams said about the Magic’s first ever draft pick, who averaged 15.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 steals during his tenure with the team. “He turned out to be a good, solid, dependable two-guard for us for a decade. It’s hard to do, but he did it. More important was the kind of person that he was, and he’s been a huge, huge member of this community for all these years.”
“He’s full of life, full of joy, full of stories,” Anderson said about the Magic’s co-founder. “That was (the way he was) the first day when I met him and it’s the same thing today. That was thirty years ago. He hasn’t changed. He tells some of the best stories that just draw your attention. What a lot of wisdom. My mom and dad always told me listen to people who have been there before and he’s certainly been there.”
Now years later, with Williams recently retired from his senior vice president role with the Magic and Anderson continuing to serve as one of the organization’s community ambassadors, it brings them both tremendous joy to reflect on all the good times they’ve had together since uniting in 1989.
What makes it all sweeter is that in November they will be both be enshrined into another Hall of Fame at the same time.
On Wednesday at Amway Center, the Florida Sports Hall of Fame announced its 2019 inductees with Williams and Anderson headlining the class. Joining them will be Daunte Culpepper, Winston DuBose, Pete Dunn, David Little, Chuck Rohe, Annika Sorenstam, Jason Varitek, Chris Weinke and Lois Webb.
“It means a lot,” Williams said. “Any time a Hall of Fame comes around and invites you to join, that’s a special moment, particularly when you look at the list of the people, the athletic figures of Central Florida. It’s rather overwhelming to me. Then when you think even further, 262 Florida sports personalities are already in. It says something about this state and athletics. I’m highly honored.”
Over five years ago, Williams and Anderson were both inducted into the Magic Hall of Fame together, which now also includes Senior Chairman Rich DeVos, “co-founding father” Jimmy Hewitt, Play-by-Play Announcer David Steele, Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway and Tracy McGrady.
Anderson, who played on the 1995 Magic team that made it to the Finals (a team that Williams helped architect), is incredibly honored to be the first Magic player chosen to be in the Florida Sports HOF.
“All the athletes, all the people who have come through here, for me to be chosen, that’s a great honor in itself,” he said. “I’m just thankful to those who paved the way for me to have what I have today.”
The 2019 Florida Sports HOF enshrinement ceremony will take place on Nov. 12 at Amway Center in Orlando. To purchase tickets or for more information, please visit flasportshof.org/class-of-2019