Sunday, October 22, 2006

NBA Throwback : Buck Williams

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He was the guy that did the dirty work on the Portland Trail Blazer glory teams of the early '90s. Charles Linwood "Buck" Williams did not get the same recognition as Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter or even Jerome Kersey -- but he certainly was a key to the success those NBA Finals Portland teams.
The current prototype NBA power forward is long, agile and multi-talented. He's as comfortable bringing the ball up as making moves in the low post. He's probably also closer to 6'11" than the 6'8" that Buck stood. Williams was the prototype back in the day. He would rebound like a demon, get you enough points on second-chance baskets and would make sure he did it at a very high clip.
Williams started his career as a New Jersey Net after three years at Maryland. The 3rd overall pick in the 1981 NBA Draft, Williams went on to win Rookie of the Year after averaging a phenom-like 15.5 ppg and 12.3 rpg. From there, Buck toiled for the Nets and made the power forward position in New Jersey his own as he continued to average 11.9 rpg or more every season he was in Jersey. He made three all-star appearances as a Net: 1982, 1983 and 1986 -- a fact much forgotten by many fans who went on to see him as a complementary player in later years.

On June 24, 1989 the Blazers decided it was time to bring that interior toughness to Portland. The infamous Sam Bowie (yes, he could have been Michael Jordan) and a draft pick which ended up being Mookie Blaylock (whom NJ traded a year later to Atlanta for Rumeal Robinson) were sent to Jersey to gain Williams' services. I would argue that without that trade, you don't see Portland in the Finals in 1990 and 1992.
Prior to Buck's arrival, Portland had dipped out in the first round of the playoffs in four consecutive seasons. The results were immediate: three straight Western Conference Finals and the only thing between Portland and a title being the Detroit Bad Boys (1990) and a man named His Airness (1992).
Buck was famous for his trademark goggles -- and his regular double-doubles and solid field goal percentage. Battling down low for the Blazers in an era which pinned him against the likes of Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Charles Oakley, Dennis Rodman, Larry Johnson, Kevin Willis, Larry Nance, Horace Grant, Shawn Kemp, Otis Thorpe, Derrick Coleman and Wayman Tisdale, there was cetainly a challenge every night for Williams and without his presence the Blazers would have struggled on the boards.
Williams had a reputation as a tough but fair competitor, a clean reputation which earned him the position as President of the NBA Players Association for a period.
Primarily a starter for the Blazers, alongside Jerome Kersey and backed up by Cliff Robinson in the glory years, Buck left the Blazers as their all-time leader in FG% at .550.
In 1996 Williams moved to New York to play one and a half injury-interupted seasons with the Knicks which put to a rest an honourable career which saw him tally more than 16,000 points and 13,000 rebounds -- only 7 players have achieved that double.
Other honours: two time All-Defensive 1st Team, two time All-Defensive 2nd Team, one time All-NBA 2nd Team, NBA FG% leader (1991, 1992) and NBA Minutes leader (1985).
In recent times, Williams has spent three seasons as an Under 16s AAU Maryland Madness coach (coaching to a top 5 national finish in 2005) and has recently been announced as a 2006 inductee to the Rocky Mount Twin County Hall of Fame.
"It's not who jumps the highest -- it's who wants it the most." -- Buck Williams


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update on my favorite NBA player of all time !!All of Oregon is aware that Buck was the "glue" for the Portland Trail Blazers from the time he arrived until the sad day we lost him. If the league currently had a few hard working, humble players like Buck, maybe I'd renew my interest in basketball.

Anonymous said...

its weird that buck never got the recognition he deserved.Last night the Blazers and the Pistons played at home in front of what was announced as the starters of those years. Clyde,Terry,Kevin,Jerome,and 'Uncle Cliffy'.Not only no Buck,but Cliff Robertson was no starter.He was in fact an amazing six man.
Where was Buck?What happened to the real strength of that paricular squad.

Dos Superflys said...

I found your blog during a buck williams google search. This is good content. I once asked Steve Patterson, during the time a couple years ago when the Blazers were trying to change their jail-blazer image, when Portland was going to honor not only a tremendous Blazer but also a outstanding human being by retiring his jersey. Mr. Patterson's response was typically teams only retire numbers of players who played the majority of their careers with one ball club. This response frustrated me because Houston had just retired Drexler's number in their rafters and he had single-handedly just handed out ridiculous pay checks to Randolph, Miles and Ratliff on the basis they 'rated' well with fans from a survey collected in Gresham! (I made the survey part up but they these three did rate well for some reason on the data the Blazers collected on fan polls.) If Lionel Hollins, Bob Gross and Dave Twardziks are hanging in the Rose Garden then Buck's number should be honored as well!

Anonymous said...

one of these days, they will see fit to put Buck Williams in the Pro Basketball hall of Fame... certainly he was one of the berst rebounders and defensive men in his day and of all-time and he had a long career in the NBA ... the sooner the better for Rocky Mount's pride and joy, #52