#4: Buck Williams

Before converting to my current Nets fandom due to a series of idiotic events that began with the hiring of Scott Layden, I was a New York Knicks fan. Save your boos and cheer on the converted. I see the high potential with the Nets and won’t revert back to rooting for the Knicks to any degree until I see the demise of, well, I won’t let this post get that dark. But fans of the New York Mets should know what I’m talking about.

In any case, even as a Knicks fan spoiled by big men Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, and Charles Smith (kidding!), I still gave a lot of props to Charles Linwood Williams AKA Buck Wiliams. How could you not give the man his respect? Okay, well, that was actually easy because of the aforementioned Knicks being a huge attraction thanks to Ewing’s dominance, rendering the Nets as “there’s an NBA team in New Jersey” fodder.

Despite the vast population of the uninitiated, Williams was a beast. Maybe the general NBA fan didn’t know it, but surely opposing NBA players did. He was drafted third overall in the 1981 NBA Draft after Mark Aguirre and Isiah Thomas and won the NBA Rookie of the Year award. Williams played with the Nets for eight seasons and for seven of them, averaged a double-double for the season. The year he missed out was his final season with the Nets (1988-89) when he “only” averaged 9.4 rebounds. Buck finished his Nets career averaging 16.4 points and 11.9 rebounds.

Other than his NBA Rookie of the Year award, Williams received accolades as a Net for his tenacity and non-stop motor from those in the know, as he was selected to three All-Star games (1982, 1983, 1986), a second team All-NBA selection (1982-83), and made the 1987-88 All-Defensive second team. Buck actually went on to make three more All-Defensive teams (first team in 1989-90 and 1990-91; second team in 1991-92), but with the Portland Trail Blazers were he received more fame due to playing for consistent contenders during his time there. Williams finished his career playing 115 games in two seasons with the Knicks, but by then was obviously at the twilight of his career, which spanned 17 seasons.

In many ways, Buck could be considered Mr. Net as he is the career leader in many categories for the team: games (635), minutes played (23,100), field goals (3,981), field goal attempts (7,234), free throws made (2,476), free throw attempts (3,818), offensive rebounds (2,588), defensive rebounds (4,988), total rebounds (7,576), rebounds per game (11.9), points (10,440), defensive win shares (32.6), win shares (62.8) and the bad stats as well, finishing tops in turnovers (1,811) and personal fouls (2,244). Plus, Williams is tops in other categories as well – second in offensive win shares (30.2) behind Julius Erving’s 31.2, second in blocks (696), third in field goal percentage (55.0%), and sixth in steals (599).

If Williams led the Nets to even one NBA title, there would be no question as to being first overall in these rankings. However, in eight seasons, Buck and his Nets made it to five NBA postseasons with the furthest destination being the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 1984. Otherwise, it was first round ousters. Having seen Buck Willams play back during his Nets heyday, I know the value he brought to the team on the court, as well as off it. He was one of those elder statesman types and it was difficult not to cheer for him. During his tenure on the hardwood, he seemed to always be overlooked, in general, and personally think he belongs at least one rank higher on this list. For all of you old Nets fans, chime in and teach some of this youngsters a thing or two! Kidding! Enjoy the rest of the list, folks!