Marvin: Nice Guy, Nice Player, and Best Years Are Still Ahead of Him

Where did all the time go? Seems like yesterday I was interviewing Marvin Williams, then a 15-year-old sophomore, in front of Bremerton High School. Back then, the storyline centered around his decision to stay at home and play with his friends instead of hopping the ferry to attend O’Dea, where the spotlight would have been much greater.

Now he’s 24, preparing to embark on his sixth NBA season with the Atlanta Hawks. He’s a year older, a year wiser, but it’s hard to imagine him being more mature. He’s always been mature beyond his year.

Marvin knew what was important to him, even when he was 15. He’s earning millions now, but he hasn’t changed, which is what makes him special in this day and age of big-money, big-egoed athletes. There’s nothing self-centered about Marvin, who still runs the floor with the guys at the YMCA when he’s home. He still hangs with his homeboys and close friends. 

Williams is coming off a summer in which he went to Africa for a volunteer basketball camp, conducted a hoops camp of his own at Bremerton High and he talked about his involvement with Emmanuel Apostolic Church and the Marvin Williams Center, which is scheduled to open in downtown Bremerton in 2012. On the day he was leaving Bremerton to go back to Atlanta, he stopped by the BHS gym to attend the memorial service for coach Les Eathorne before heading to the airport.

Now it’s time for Marvin to get back to business. The theme hasn’t changed. Fans and critics are still waiting for second overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft to break out. Marvin just shrugs his shoulders. All he wants to do is win, like he did at North Carolina where he was the sixth man on the NCAA championship team.  Statistics, honors, playing time … it’s not a huge deal for him. Marvin doesn’t demand the basketball, it’s not in his DNA. 

This is what the late Eathorne had to say about Williams after the Bremerton lad announced his decision to turn pro after one year at North Carolina.

“He such a good kid,” Eathorne said of Williams. “I think he had no choice. They wiped out his team in the draft, and if he went back it would be somewhat like high school where he had four guys guarding him. So I think the move was the right one.

“Whether he will be a success or not, the game is rough and he’s going to have to keep working on the weights, and he’s going to have to get mean. And I like him the way he is. I don’t want him mean.”

Mean or not, he’s a versatile 6-foot-10 forward with a lot of skills. And do I have to remind you that he is only 24. While it seems like he’s been around forever, his best basketball years have hardly passed him by.

If you’re never watched Marvn play, or even if you have, check out this video.

It will be interesting to see if his role in Atlanta expands under new coach Larry Drew. That’s the buzz, but we’ve heard that before.

In the meantime, here’s a couple early reports on Bremerton’s hometown pro:

This comes from Hoopsworld.com:

When the Hawks were thoroughly dismantled and subsequently swept by the Orlando Magic in last season’s playoffs, losing by an NBA-record margin of 25 points, most theorized that Atlanta’s run with the current roster had run its course.

Marvin Williams thinks otherwise and believes the team got closer after the demoralizing series loss.

“I hope so. Obviously no one liked the way we fell out of the playoffs. It was embarrassing. Taking nothing away from Orlando, obviously they’re a great team but I don’t think anyone in here (players) thinks Orlando is 25 points better than us night in and night out,” explained Williams to HOOPSWORLD.

Williams has also become an easy scapegoat when criticism is showered on the team. Of course, a lot of that stems from the organization selecting him before Chris Paul and Deron Williams in the 2005 draft. However, Williams doesn’t care about doing the dirty work on a team filled with talent and says the criticism doesn’t get into his head.

“Never.  Anybody that knows Marvin Williams knows I play to win. It’s not about if you have four points or forty points.  No one will remember that. I was a sixth man on a national championship team and no one can ever take that away,” stated Williams to HOOPSWORLD.

“They might not have known my stats, but they know I won a national championship in 2005. So at the end of the day, that’s all that matters (winning). I don’t ever feel underappreciated. I love my teammates and I love being in the city of Atlanta” continued Williams.

The new motion offense will put Williams in more favorable situations to score efficiently. Williams remains a critical part of the Hawks’ framework because of their lack of depth at small forward.

And this comes from an Atlanta Journal-Constitution blog Hawks Fan Nest:

There is one veteran who comes into camp with possibly more questions than anybody else, and this is Marvin Williams. Like it or not, he’s now a veteran. Going into his fifth (actually sixth) year, all the cliches about development and “turning the corner” are over with. Yes, we’ve hashed this one to death, but the question STILL remains: Can Marvin become the type of  player who deserves to be a member of the starting unit? He was back in 2008-2009, as he was the year before that. But this is a League that doesn’t work off of what you were able to do a couple of years ago. The question is, what can you do NOW? Some people feel Marvin has a lot to prove, and this coaching change will prove whether or not he can, or can’t. Others feel that Al Horford or Josh Smith has a lot to prove. Still others will assert that Joe Johnson, as the league’s highest paid player this last offseason, has more to prove than anybody. Which veteran player do you feel has the most to prove?
 

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