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RIP John "Hot Rod" Williams

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by Ottomaton, Dec 11, 2015.

  1. Ottomaton

    Ottomaton Contributing Member
    Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2000
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    I can remember when Cleveland ended up Hot Rod, Ron Harper, Brad Daugherty and Mark Price in the same year. Pretty damn good draft. I was at the right age that that team caught my interest and was one of my favorite non-Rockets teams.

    Also, his nickname was the genesis for one of the best nicknames ever - distinguishing John "Hot Rod" Williams from fat-ass John "Hot Plate" Williams.

    53 is too young.



    John 'Hot Rod' Williams dies at 53

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Former Cleveland Cavaliers forward John "Hot Rod" Williams died today at the age of 53. He had been battling cancer for the past several months.

    Williams died in a Baton Rouge, La. area hospital where he had been hospitalized in recent days, according to his long-time agent, Mark Bartelstein. Williams was a long-time resident of nearby Sorrento, Louisiana.

    Williams was with the Cavs from 1986-93. He played on some highly successful and fondly remembered Cavs teams that made several extended playoff runs but could never quite make it to the NBA Finals. Included in that run was the loss to the Chicago Bulls in 1989, when Michael Jordan made "The Shot."

    Those Cavs teams included Mark Price, Brad Daugherty, Larry Nance, Craig Ehlo and Ron Harper, among others.

    "John loved playing in Cleveland," said Bartelstein. "He played a few years after leaving the Cavs, but he always thought of himself as a Cavalier."

    Williams was especially close to Lenny Wilkens, whom he called, "Coach Lenny." Wilkins often used Williams as a sixth man because he liked an impact player coming off the bench.

    Williams never complained. He had too much respect for "Coach Lenny." He also knew he'd be on the court in the fourth quarter.

    "John loves those guys (on the team)," said Bartelstein of the other Cavs. "They were such an outstanding team."

    In a 2011 interview, Williams fondly recalled his time with the Cavs.

    The 6-foot-11 Williams was a completely unselfish player on the court. He loved to defend, block shots and set picks. In his nine seasons with the Cavs he averaged 13 points and 7.1 rebounds, shooting 48 percent. He could play any spot in the frontcourt.

    He played three seasons in Phoenix after being traded for Dan Majerle, then closed out his NBA career with Dallas in 1998-99.

    Former Cavs General Manager Harry Weltman gambled by picking Williams in the second round of the 1985 draft, knowing Williams would be tied up in court for at least a year because of a point shaving scandal at Tulane.

    Bartelstein negotiated a $125,000 personal service contract so that Williams could support his family. Bartelstein then hired Michael Greene, a top Chicago attorney, to represent Williams. One meeting with Williams convinced Greene of the player's innocence.

    Greene often told this story to the media: "(Williams) spoke slowly and explained things. At the end, he had tears in his eyes. He said, 'Mister, please help me. I didn't do anything wrong.' I said, 'You got a lawyer.'"

    I wrote several stories about his case, and soon became convinced that Williams was set up by others. He was being paid $100 a week by boosters. He was given $10,000 in a shoe box to attend Tulane while still in high school.

    He gave the money to his stepmother, Barbara Colar, who actually was a woman in the neighborhood. She adopted Williams after his father walked out when he was young. His mother died not long after he was born.

    The first round in court ended in a mistrial because the prosecution failed to turn over some evidence to the defense. The second trial was an acquittal, the jury coming to the verdict in less than an hour.

    Hot Rod was always a strange nickname for Williams. It came from his stepmother, who was amused by all the engine sounds made by a young Williams when playing on the floor with toy cars.

    Williams had a construction business in Sorrento. He loved to build things even while with the Cavs (1986-95). He worked on his own dream house in Sorrento, then helped build one for his stepmother. They lived on the same street.

    After retiring, Williams owned a construction company. He coached little league and other youth sports in Sorrento.

    "He is loved in the community," said Bartelstein.

  2. RiceDaddy7

    RiceDaddy7 Member

    Nov 12, 2003
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