Wednesday, September 21, 2005

30 Reasons to Get Fired Up For the 2005-06 NBA Season - #21

The Return of Jay Williams


June 19, 2003

Despite strict parameters within his contract that prohibited him from riding a motorcycle, there was Jay Williams, the summer after a frustrating rookie campaign, cruising around on his brand new Yamaha sportbike. What occurred that evening would severely alter the life of the Bulls’ PG forever. Williams lost control of the bike and smashed into a telephone pole, completely mangling his left leg to the point where it was uncertain if he would ever walk again. The former 2nd overall pick had to be immobilized for the next eight weeks, a unfortunate situation that would force basketball to take a back seat for the first time in his young life.

April 2004

After a half dozen surgeries on his left leg and over nine months of rest and rehabilitation, Jay Williams finally decided to pick up a basketball. Initially he was forced to take things slow, just shooting and dribbling, then gradually jogging several months later. This was his first step to making a full recovery back to the game he truly loved.

August 2004

Jay admitted that he’s only 65-70% back to where he needs to be to compete at the NBA level. He initially thought he could be ready by the 04-05 All-Star break but decided not to take any chances in rushing back. As he said: “A great thing I have on my side is that I'm 22 years old, just getting ready to turn 23 on September 10. If I did wait a full year, I'd only be 24 and I'd be right in the prime of my career.”

November 2004

Working out at Duke University in Durham, NC, Jason was rehabbing at a rapid pace. He began playing more and more half-court games and really started to push himself and go all out. One day Williams decided to attempt something he hadn’t done in almost a year and a half: dunk. After throwing down his first jam off the left leg since the accident, the former Blue Devil had to take a moment and reflect. “It was so exciting, I actually kind of cried. Maybe that sounds weird to some of you, but for someone who many thought wasn't going to be able to walk, to be able to dunk the ball is a great accomplishment to me.”

April 2005

Almost two years after the accident, Jay was becoming so focussed on a 2005 return that he chose to begin working out with Michael Jordan’s trainer, Tim Grover. The fact that Williams was training with Grover, a well known and respected man in the NBA, prompted teams to start calling to see how well he was progressing. “It pumped me up for the Toronto Raptors to call and see how I am. I received some other calls from some other teams. It means a lot to me. I think teams are realizing that my comeback is not just talk.”

July 2005

Working out with Grover for the past 3-4 months really strengthened Jason physically and mentally. On July 22, the media was invited to Hoops Gym in Chicago to watch Williams live for the first time since the accident—a truly astounding accomplishment. After the workout, Jay vowed to be ready for training camp come October and announced that 6-8 teams had already inquired about his plans for the season. Recognizing that the Bulls are fairly set in their backcourt, JW admitted that it’s probably a long shot for him to return to Chicago. Being through the worst of times however, nothing is going to frustrate Williams. The first step is just to land with an NBA team, and once he gets his opportunity, the sky’s the limit.

September 2005

The Toronto Sun is reporting that the Raptors are extremely interested in bringing Jay in to be their backup point guard for the 05-06 season. Williams claims to be 85% healthy and in addition to working out for Toronto, has also had auditions for Miami and Houston. Unfortunately, the Heat have reportedly declined to offer Jay a contract and will continue to look elsewhere for PG help. On a brighter note, the news of the Raptors’ interest has to be a great feeling for Jay. Not only has he made it all the way back to the pro level, but he also has a chance to earn some quality minutes this season. With Coach Sam Mitchell’s evident distaste for his starting PG Rafer Alston, it would not be too far-fetched to think that Jay could take over the reigns at some point during the year. Stay tuned for more news as it comes to us.

Prediction

While I hope it's not the case, we have to expect Williams to struggle in his first year back and even miss some time due to injury. From what I hear the leg continues to get stronger and eventually JW should be back to 100%. At just 24 years of age there is still plenty of time for him to return to the superstar level he played at in college. As with his rehabilitation process however, he'll just have to take things one day at a time.

3 Comments:

At 3:56 PM, Blogger Nat said...

nice post ant... i have been following up with the articles in toronto about jay will and babcocks in terest in him. We did sign rookie jose calderon but i think he would be a #3 under williams. I really do hope his rehab continues to be successful and i see him in a raptors uniform sometime this year

 
At 6:55 PM, Blogger asdf said...

The Bulls are my team so it's nice to see Jay close to completing his comeback. Too bad he won't end up with the Bulls though. Whoever he does end up with though, I'll be rooting for him.

 
At 6:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Duke Blue Devils fan. Ever since Jay left, I've been following him. Jay is a great player and I hope he gets his playing skills back soon.

 

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