- The Washington Times - Monday, March 20, 2000

Jason Williams is a distortion of a media-driven age.

He is not a star in the old-fashioned sense. He is a clown who pretends to be a point guard.

At least he is with the right team, the Kings, the Harlem Globetrotters of the West.

There is a place in basketball for the Globetrotters. The NBA is not the place.

Williams prefers style to substance. He can dribble the ball with his nose hairs. He can pass the ball with his ear lobes. Sometimes, as a result, the ball winds up in the lap of a spectator.

No point guard under 18 should be allowed to watch Williams.

The young are impressionable, unable to distinguish between the dumb and dumber. Williams falls into the latter category.

To watch Williams is to watch a mindless showboat who can't make a simple pass to save his assist/turnover ratio.

Yet he remains a favorite of the nightly highlight shows. He averages one highlight clip and a zillion bad decisions a game.

There is a pattern. He majored in the hemp plant while he was on layover at Florida. He has a lot of Cheech and Chong in his game. He is four or five tokes over the line.

Rick Adelman and the Kings can afford to be patient with Williams. They have the illusion of being a somewhat serious team. The illusion is seen through the lens of a grim history.

The Kings endured 15 consecutive losing seasons before they compiled a 27-23 mark during the lockout-abbreviated campaign last year.

The Kings are not really going anywhere this season unless you count their first-round formality against either the Lakers or Trail Blazers in the playoffs.

As long as Williams earns significant minutes at point guard, the Kings appear stuck on being an opening act. They don't see it that way. They see a player who has time to grow into the job.

Williams has a number of flaws, and his secret wish to be a halftime dribbling act is only part of it. He is allergic to defense. His ability to shoot the 3-pointer is not much better.

He likes to shoot the 3-pointer in transition, in one-on-two or one-on-three situations, which is not such a bad thing if you're Reggie Miller or Glen Rice or Jeff Hornacek. But it probably is not the wisest shot if your 3-point shooting percentage is .265.

It apparently is easy to miss the point with Williams.

He is a serial dribbler, limited shooter, weak defender and poor decision-maker, and his passes lead to heartburn as well as to layups. Yet he is celebrated, perceived to be a superstar in the making, and he is a crowd favorite, his jersey a big seller.

Williams appeals to marketers, the basketball clueless and youngsters who confuse between-the-legs dribbling with competence.

When it comes to a waste of motion, between-the-legs dribbling is on a par with Greg Ostertag attempting to post up.

Jason Kidd and Gary Payton play the point guard position the way it is meant to be played. They are the best at what they do. They have a feel for the game, an innate sense of when to impose their will on a game. Even John Stockton, who turns 38 in six days, is still able to function at a high level because of his feel for the game.

Williams has no feel for the game. Zip. None. He plays to the crowd and camera crews. He plays to make the one exceptional play and not the countless mundane ones so essential to a team's welfare.

He is philosophically opposed to the simple pass, which is too bad. The simple pass can be as effective as one off your elbow and its turnover probability is considerably lower.

Williams is like the adolescent who struggles too hard to be cool in high school. The struggle is counterproductive, revealing only a lack of cool.

Being flashy is an ill-defined element of basketball. Vince Carter's flashiness comes naturally, within the context of the game. Williams' flashiness often looks contrived, forced, at odds with the game's fundamental purpose, which is to outscore the opposition.

Williams, if he ever is to be more than a sideshow, must learn to accept that basketball does not award style points.

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