When the Nets picked Sean Williams 17th in the 2007 Draft, there were red flags immediately. He was kicked off the Boston College basketball team for numerous infractions involving marijuana use. But the Nets were seduced by his athleticism. This was a guy who had 75 blocks in a college season where he only played 15 games.
But now that he's on his way to being out of New Jersey, I think we can safely say that it never worked out for Sean Williams. And this shouldn't surprise anyone. One of the lessons learned from the Sean Williams experience is that freakish athletic ability can't be taught to players. But in the same vain, it's incredibly difficult to try and redeem someone with so many character issues. Swat had draft lottery talent, but his penchant to make serious mistakes on and off the court will likely keep him from catching on with another team and finally realizing his talent.
Fred Kerber wrote a spot on sendoff of the Sean Williams era. Naturally, the article focuses on a lot of the bad - the D-League disaster, the arrest in Denver last season, and Swat's knack to infuriate his superiors: "Watch Sean warm up," Kerber quotes on Nets executive. "Have you ever seen him work on things he actually can use in a game?"
But Kerber also captures another wrinkle in the saga:
It is a shame because Williams has never seemed like a really bad guy. Immature, sure. Bad, no. There was a time last year when the Nets talked about their young players, Brook Lopez, Devin Harris, then-Net Ryan Anderson, when he said sadly, "I guess I'm not one of the young players they want to develop."
When Sebastian and I attended our first practice before the season started in October, one of the things we were immediately taken by was Sean Williams, working on his post game with assistant coach Roy Rogers. Wasn't this the guy who was supposedly a flake and a bad seed? What was he doing practicing while everyone else was either talking to reports, or launching half court shots? But like Kerber says here, I don't think Williams was a "bad guy." Just one who couldn't get his act together.
Unfortunately, the Daily News gossip duo, Rush and Molloy, have a story today that most people will likely relate to when they talk about Sean Williams' career a few years from now.
A battalion of security guards recently carried the 6-foot-10 power forward out of Chelsea's M2 UltraLounge after he allegedly annoyed female patrons, hurled an ice bucket at a busboy and threw a punch at a bouncer, sources tell us.
Trying to be an optimist, my lasting image of Swat will be his post-game interview from November, after the Heat edged the Nets by a point off a Dwyane Wade three-pointer. Williams wasn't getting much game action, but Lawrence Frank subbed him in against Miami, and Swat responded with 12 points and a huge block on a Michael Beasley three-point attempt. After the game, Williams looked inconsolable. He played his heart out and the team still lost. It was almost as if he knew another opportunity came and went, even if the team's struggles weren't his fault.