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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Basketball Irkutsk

All sorts of sayings come to mind, such as "innocent until proven guilty" or "he hasn't been convicted of anything," or "he deserves a second chance," although they wouldn't be totally apt.

Yes, Jayson Williams is playing basketball again.

In Idaho.

In the CBA (which is ironic, because the University of Idaho's nickname is the Vandals, which, when it comes to the former all-star power forward, hits pretty close to home).

Which, for a guy with a huge house, lots of amenities and not much else, is tantamount to Hoops Siberia.

The Idaho Stampede.

Okay, so he hasn't signed a contract yet, and, yes, if he does, he'll be the oldest player in the CBA at 36. Which is usually an age when, if you're not in the big leagues, you retire. Because then you're a hoops senior citizen, and it's time to think about the next chapter of your life. If you're a real senior citizen, you probably wouldn't move to Idaho at the age of 70. You'd move to Arizona.

And, when you read the article, you'll discern that Cavs coach Paul Silas believes that Williams can help a team in the NBA. This is your dad's Paul Silas, the old Celtics and Suns warrior who took no guff from anyone, and who railed at good guy PG Eric Snow for alleged insubordination earlier in the season. It's hard to believe that the Cavs would pursue Williams for two reasons. First, do you really think Paul Silas would tolerate Williams' act if he threw a public fit about Snow's play? Second, do you think that Cavs management would want Williams around as an influence for LeBron James? As much as the Cavs think they miss Carlos Boozer on the low blocks, they don't need Jayson Williams to improve their chemistry.

I really don't know what to think of all this. I usually think that when someone retires that he should stay retired, unless you're Roger Clemens or the late Wilt Chamberlain. After all, even the thought of Wilt's return to the hard wood at the age of 55 to give some team 15 minutes a game would have been something to watch. I, for one, would have paid money to see him play. Michael Jordan, too.

But not most others.

The problem with the NBA today is that there are too many players, not too few. Sure, there are those who would argue that there are too few good players, but it's a reach to argue that Williams would be considered a good player, even using today's grade inflation. The NBA's product is lacking, and on the heels of the battle royale in Detroit earlier this season, the return of Jayson Williams is perhaps the last thing that the NBA needs to polish its image.

Still, playing again is his right, and it's the right of every team in need of production at the power forward position to take a look at Williams if they want to.

Just don't bet that they'll be lining up for the privilege. There will be no stampedes to Idaho to check him out. Media, perhaps. Scouts, no more than usual.

So, meanwhile, Jayson Williams is looking to resurrect his career in Idaho.

Is he building character by exiling himself to this cold weather climate?

Or is this just another episode in the career of a character?

Remember, he hasn't signed a contract yet.


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