Meeting legendary NBA baller Gus Williams the same week that the NBA begins its annual free agency pageantry was a statement of then and now, a before and after.
Williams was in town for a press conference to announce the production of “Four Square Miles to Glory,” a documentary about outstanding talented athletes such as himself who balled over the years for Mount Vernon High School. Remember when he sat out the entire 1980-1981 NBA season because of a contract dispute with the Seattle Supersonics, now the Oklahoma Thunder ?
While listening to Williams, my cell was blowing up from all of the apps and text alerts about each prospective free agent rumor and proposed deal in the works. It’s like NBA teams just wanted to give away money, and with a limited amount of time to do so. It’s like they had to make a deal or Wayne Brady would move on to the next contestant to choose one of the other available doors.
I couldn’t believe Iman Shumpert (Cleveland Cavaliers) would get a four-year, $10-million-per deal. Robin Lopez (New York Knicks), $13.5 million. Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors, this season’s NBA champs, resigned his deal, increasing his salary from $880,248 a year to $85 million for five. Do the math. That’s Greece bailout-type dough!
Williams’ style of offense would have been perfect for today’s Brooklyn Nets, who resigned deals with center Brook Lopez, Robin’s brother, for $60 million for three years. Likewise, forward Thaddeus Young got $50 million for four. Williams excels at getting the ball to Lopez- and Young-type players. Brooklyn also signed their drafted rookie forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, though the terms were undisclosed.
Trade rumors for Nets forward Joe Johnson, the NBA’S second highest paid player, continue, with the sexiest being the Cleveland Cavaliers. Trading Johnson would diminish financial obligations and the severe luxury tax penalties Brooklyn faces.