By Ryan McNeill
A lot of people get upset about writers referring to athletes as warriors because they feel the only warriors are those that fight in wars. For the most part I agree with that assessment but Alvin Williams is different from most basketball players because he laid it all out on the line every time he laced up his kicks. The quote that best sums up Williams comes when he was quoted a couple seasons back as saying “if I can never walk again because of what I love to do, that’s a chance I’ll take. I’ll die on the court. That’s what I want to do. That’s how I want to play.”
How often do basketball fans get treated to athletes who genuinely love the game of basketball? Far too often playing in the NBA becomes someone’s ticket to riches instead of a chance to live out their childhood dreams. Williams made $40 million during his career in the NBA yet he still hopes to latch onto a NBA roster next season just to prolong his playing career. From what I know about Williams I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of him pulling a “Pat Borders” just to be a part of a basketball team somewhere.
Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star did a great job of pointing out Williams heard in a column he wrote today called, “Above All, Passion.” Feschuk opened his column by writing that “it was once pointed out to Alvin Williams that his basketball philosophy was diametrically opposed to that of Vince Carter, his long-time friend and Raptor teammate. This was near the end of the 2003-04 season, when it seemed as if Williams never played without a limp and an accompanying dose of pain. The Toronto point guard missed 26 games that season to the various knee and ankle ailments that have derailed his career, but Carter was missing games, too, occasionally for what Vinsanity would describe as precautionary reasons. To Williams, the idea of a precautionary benchwarming was ludicrous. He wanted to play now, today, on this possession and the next one. Sitting, resting, heeding Carter’s warning to preserve his body for the long run — they weren’t options Williams considered.”
Feschuk then finished off his article perfectly by writing, “you wonder why on earth would he keep at it, with bone scraping bone in knees and ankles ground to bits? Certainly (Vince) Carter could never understand Williams’ addiction to being out there, pain and all. ‘(He can be) courageous now, or have longevity,’ Carter once warned. Williams knew one way: now over later, courage over caution, hooping over healing. As he said a couple of years back, so gravely you could only believe him, so pointedly you could only admire him: ‘This is the only thing, other than my family, that I have a passion for and I love. And I’d give my life for it.’”
It would have been great to see Williams finish up his career with the Raptors and provide this team an example of what it means to be a true professional. While Williams would have no longer had the same type of role on the floor, I can’t help but think he would have been another Darrick Martin for the franchise. Adding salt into the wound are local reports that the Raptors are looking at Martin to fill the vacant roster spot Williams leaves – why not let Alvin stick around to be around the game that he loves? Williams has $14 million remaining on the next two years of his deal and the buyout was for close to $10 million, I don’t get why the Raptors wouldn’t let him stick around to be a player-coach like Martin was last season.
Raptors fans will be sad to see Williams leave but we wish him the best of luck with his future.