Jawad Williams is a 32 year old 204 cm forward from Cleveland, Ohio playing his 12th professional season and first with Royal Hali Gaziantep (Turkey-BSL). He played at North Carolina from 2001-2005 playing a total of 128 NCAA games and won the 2005 NCAA title. He started his professional career in 2005 with Alta Gestion Fuenlabrada Madrid (Spain-ACB) playing 19 games: 5.2ppg, 2.3rpg, 2FGP: 39.0%, FT: 70.0%; released in March ’06, then joined Fayetteville Patriots (D-League): 4 games: 14.0ppg, 5.0rpg, 1.8apg. In the 2006-2007 season he played for the Los Angeles Clippers (NBA), left in Oct.’06, then moved to Anaheim Arsenal (D-League, starting five): 50 games: 19.2ppg, 4.5rpg, 1.7apg, FGP: 43.9%, 3PT: 34.0%, FT: 79.4%. In the 2007-2008 season he played for Rera Kamuy Hokkaido (Japan-Superleague) playing 35 games: Score-2(24.7ppg), 7.1rpg, 1.9apg, in March ’08 moved to Hapoel Galil Elyon (Israel-Premier League) playing 10 games: 9.6ppg, 3.8rpg, 1.1spg, 2FGP: 39.6%, 3PT: 34.6%, FT: 81.8%. He then played 3 seasons in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers playing 85 games. He then played parts of three seasons with Paris-Levallois (France-ProA) and briefly with Pinar Karsiyaka SK Izmir (Turkey-TBL): 19 games: 8.1ppg, 2.9rpg, FGP: 53.3%, 3PT: 28.3%, FT: 62.9%. Last season he played for Royal Hali Gaziantep (Turkey-TBL) playing 29 games: 10.5ppg, 4.6rpg, 1.2apg, 2FGP: 39.8%, 3FGP: 39.7%, FT: 78.0%. He gave German Hoops an exclusive interview after the 91-79 Europe Cup loss to the Fraport Skyliners
Jawad thanks for talking to German Hoops. You have had a long career in Europe. What experiences have you had in German arena´s over the years and how do you like the game here?
This was actually only my second time to Germany. I played in Ulm a few years ago in Euro cup. I love Germany. The fans are lively, nice arena´s and the league looks very professional.
A tough 91-79 loss against the Fraport Skyliners. After the 71-66 loss at home and three key Skyliners missing what did the team want to do differently tonight?
We wanted to step up the pressure in Frankfurt. We played terrible defense in the first game. We did a better job applying pressure, but we got into foul problems. We let them get to the free throw line 38 times. You won´t win games like that.
Why did Royal Hali Gazientep have so much difficulty keeping Frankfurt out of the paint over 40 minutes?
I have no idea. We supplied much pressure in the back court, but we had many break downs. It was just one of those nights.
You see so many different players and have had NBA experience. You saw German national player Johannes Voigtmann twice now. He has NBA interest. What was your impression of his game?
Voigtmann is pretty good. He is a very skilled player for his size and that will only help him.
He has said that if the NBA calls, he won´t mind going, but he feels his game is better suited for the Euroleague.
If you pay attention to the NBA, you will see that it is changing more to the European style. The Spurs and Warriors have adapted more to a European style. I think in the future you will see more NBA teams playing a European style, but you will still see your share of super one on one players.
Can the overall versatility get Johannes Voigtmann to the NBA in the future?
Yes of course. Versatility is the name of the game. If your versatile, it is a lot easier finding a job now a day. For example take a Lebron James or even a Draymond Green of the Warriors. You can never really pin point what position he is playing and that makes him valuable.
You are playing your second season with Royal Hali Gaziantep (Turkey-BSL). Is adding on more hardware to your cup titles your biggest priority at age 32?
Yes of course. I have been winning my whole career in different places. For me my biggest focus is always to win. We have good chances to win this season near to moving to last 16 in Europe Cup and we are still alive in the cup play. We are very focused now as a team.
You have always been a scorer in your career. On a team like Royal Hali Gaziantep (Turkey-BSL) where there are so many scorers, what is your role exactly this season?
My role has been the same wherever I have played in my career and that is too use my versatility as best as I can. If I am matched against a big guy, I go outside or against a smaller I post up. I just do what the game gives me and do what is best for the team.
You have played with many great shooters in your career, but where does a Andrew Rautins rank in a guy that can just flat out shoot the ball?
Andy ranks up with the top 2-3 best I have ever played with. I played with some great shooters like Japanese Takehiko Orimo who was 37 when he was my teammate and shot 60% from downtown, but not just catch and pop, but moving as well. I also rank John Diebler and Daniel Gibson with the Cavs as the best shooters that I have played with. However I saw Andy make shots that guys would never think of shooting. Andy is one of the best shooters in the world.
Andrew Rautins said the goal of the team in Turkey is too make the playoffs. How realistic is it with the heavy competition to win the Europe Cup?
That is realistic. When our roster is healthy sky is the limit.
When one sees you on the floor for the first time one can right away say, that guy has an NBA body. What advantages has your NBA swagger had for you in Europe over the years?
I think that a lot of it comes from the 1-1 aspect of the game. Since I came to Europe, I have realized that my game isn´t only from the three point line and block, but also from the mid-range. I have a big advantage with my height from there.
You are a guy that can do it all at 204cm, but what would you say is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t always get noticed right away on the court?
Since I have been a scorer all my life, people don´t pay attention that I can actually play defense and defend multiple positions. For most of the coaches that I have played for I have had to play defense. Royal Hali Gaziantep got me because of my defensive qualities. When you are a scorer, you get a label until someone says that you can do more than just score.
You played parts of 3 seasons with Paris and with ex North Carolina teammates David Noel and Sean May. What did you learn from these guy 6-7 years later that you wouldn´t have in school?
That is funny because we haven´t learned much from then until now. We relish the North Carolina times. Everything we learned we did back in school. When I was reunited with Sean and David in Paris, we realized that isthas always been hard losing on the floor. When I was teammates with Sean May at North Carolina and at Paris, we played the 4-5 and never lost a title. We always knew where the other would be and that made everything else on the court that much easier. We were taught by the best at North Carolina by Roy Williams and the Dean Smith school of basketball. I remember we played the exact same secondary break at Paris that we also played at North Carolina. We proved the system right at Paris winning with it there.
You played parts of 3 seasons in the NBA with Cleveland. What did you cherish most about this experience?
Being a part of this group of guys was unlike any other group I have ever been with. We were a very close knit group and were always together. I still talk to the guys today and we see each other in the off season.
Not many can say I played with Lebron and Shaq on the same team. What one memory will you forever take with you?
There were so many memories. Back in 2008 when I was a rookie and made the team, I was in the gym 2 hours before the start of practice and Lebron was 1.5 hours before the start. He is the best player in the world, but he is still putting in the extra work. Shaq was at the end of his career, but he passed the torch to Lebron. For Shaq it was all about winning and the team. They are two great players that cared more for the team than themselves.
As a rookie you played with Alta Gestion Fuenlabrada Madrid (Spain-ACB) in 2005. What was your wake up call to being a rookie in Europe where you knew that you were far away from Ohio?
Being a rookie in Madrid was tough. At that time, I was the first American rookie in Spain. I wasn´t used to the fans throwing things on the court or whistling. It was hard coming from North Carolina and being treated like a rookie. That didn´t sit well with me. I vowed to never return, but things changed. I developed further as a player and also mentally and I made a career in Europe.
Before reaching the NBA, you had played in the D-League and been with the Los Angeles Clippers. You then went back overseas. How tough was this period? How realistic was your NBA dream then?
When I made the Cavs in 2008, I had just played my first season in Japan. I told my family and agent that I never wanted to come back to the States. I loved Japan. Then I got a call from the Cavs who wanted to give me a try-out. First I didn´t want to go, because I didn´t want to go through all the same things again of playing well and then still getting cut. However my grandmother wanted me home, so I went home, tried out and hung around for three years in the NBA.
You then were second in scoring in Japan and played in Israel. Then you reached the NBA. What do you believe ultimately got you to the big show then?
I think my mental chip on my shoulder got me to the NBA. I was at home in Ohio and from day one I felt I belonged in the NBA. I didn´t back down from anyone. Many people respected me. Lebron respected me who I had known since high school and head coach Mike Brown also respected me.
You had many great teammates at North Carolina when you won the NCAA title in 2005 with guys like Seam May, Raymond Felton, David Noel, Rashad Mccants, Reyshawn Terry or Marvin Williams. If you had to choose one guy that left the biggest impression who was it?
All are great players, but if I had to choose one it would be Sean May. He had a high knowledge of the game far beyond his years. He played almost like a coach on the court. He had the mind of a point guard as a big man and saw things before they happened.
How did Roy Williams groom and prepare you best for a professional basketball career?
Roy Williams installed another level of work ethic in me. He also helped me know what my deficiencies were and helped me become the player I am today.
Who was the toughest player that you battled in the NBA?
Outside of Lebron it was Kevin Durant. A seven footer that can put the ball on the floor and shoot from anywhere. He was always a very tough matchup.
How do you get Anthony King to laugh?
I have known Anthony since 14-15 years. He may come over as a quiet guy, but I see through his non talkative way. I harass him, because I know what gets him off.
When all is said and done will a Lebron be mentioned in the same breath as a Michael Jordan?
Lebron will be mentioned in the same breath as Michael Jordan. The titles don´t match up yet, but statistically he is the best ever. He does it all on the court scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. When he has a 25/12/7 game, it is seen as bad, but for anyone else it is a great game. People take his greatness for granted. He will win another title.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Jawad for the chat.