- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 9, 2005

When we last saw Jason Williams, the erstwhile White Chocolate of the NBA, we were impressed with his guttural attack on a Memphis newspaper employee because it demonstrated, somewhat conclusively, that the bong-packing point guard from West Virginia is able to read on some level.

Who knew that Williams had abilities beyond being a glorified halftime show, a one-man gig with an amazing capacity to dribble the ball with his ears, toes and nose hair?

Williams insisted it was all good in the locker room and that no further quotes would be forthcoming as he was being separated from the object of his ire, an insistence that was replayed countless times on ESPN.

We all like to watch a good clown at work, and the clip of Williams became an instant ESPN Classic.

Now Williams, among others, has been dispatched to the care of Stan Van Gundy in Miami, and, really, all you want to say to the coach seemingly cast out of an Italian eatery is, throw some green peppers and mushrooms on the pizza, OK?

Van Gundy has about 20 games to show he is up to the challenge of the revamped Heat before Pat Riley will descend from his perch in South Beach to take up residence on the bench.

Shaquille O’Neal took a $10million cut so the Heat brain trust could add the proper pieces.

It is hard to say if Williams, Antoine Walker and James Posey are the proper accessories to O’Neal and Dwyane Wade, although more than basketball could be involved in this move.

Officer Shaq could have an eye on Williams to expedite his police-training pursuits.

Williams is the master of the ill-advised 3-point attempt, the no-look pass that winds up in the hands of the fat guy sitting at courtside and the occasional utterance that indicates he gleans all his intellectual sustenance from Eminem, the 98-pound poet who asks to be taken seriously while wearing the discarded do-rag of Aunt Jemima.

Williams improved his break-your-heart proclivities to a degree in Memphis, but not enough to spare ex-coach Hubie Brown from fainting in horror at one point, with his white Pontius Pilate hair-do prone to standing up on occasion.

The pizza-delivery coach of South Beach — hold the anchovies, Stan — can’t be feeling overly comfortable with these worrisome dynamics.

Walker is addicted to the quick 3-point attempt as well, although unlike Williams, he is supposed to have a brain, plus he is a 6-foot-9 shimmy-inclined forward.

Walker and Williams amount to lots of wasted possessions, assuming O’Neal is able to resist the temptation to put either under house arrest.

Walker also carries the additional burden of being a Shaq-like shooter at the free throw line. One rim-busting free throw shooter is bad enough in the playoffs, but two qualify as cruel and unusual punishment for a team.

Posey is the most unobtrusive of the three additions, a worthy part, and certainly as dependable as the up-and-down Eddie Jones.

The Heatmen are the initial favorites in the Eastern Conference, because all the games are being held on paper now, Larry Brown has abandoned the Pistons to accept the dream job of the lottery-bound Knicks, the Pacers are only one Ron Artest-induced blow-up from also-ran status and Larry Hughes ditched the Wizards with the amusing conviction that LeBron James is going to spend his whole career in Cleveland.

Riley felt compelled to blow up the franchise in order to save it, a startling decision, for the Heat would have advanced to the NBA Finals if not for the injury to Wade in the conference finals.

Yet Riley has been required to calibrate the future dependability of the 33-year-old O’Neal, evermore prone to nagging injuries. In the last season of his five-year contract, O’Neal will turn 38 and be in the accelerated phase of his physical descent.

The Heat’s blockbuster deal was glitzy, no doubt, but reservations are in order.

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