Tuesday, July 24, 2018

"Just Don't Listen to Lawrence Frank"

Jay Williams appeared on the Bill Simmons Podcast to talk about his career in basketball, which was tragically ended when he crashed his motorcycle in June 2003.  The 2002 No. 2 NBA Draft pick of the Chicago Bulls had a banner college career with Duke, including a national championship in 2001, consecutive 21 point-per-game seasons, and multiple individual accolades.  All indications were that he would be a Bulls franchise player for years to come and a multi-time All Star at the least.

The crash, coming just after his rookie season and nearly a year after he was drafted, lead to a fractured pelvis, torn knee ligaments, and nerve damage in his left leg.  While the worst fears of amputation never came to be, he was left a shell of the former NCAA College Player of the Year.  He ended up with a permanent dropped left foot.

In 2006, Williams tried a comeback with the New Jersey Nets.  The Nets had just drafted Marcus Williams with a first-round pick, and obviously still had Jason Kidd in the PG1 role.  Therefore, barring an exceptional preseason showing, his chances were not great.  He was cut towards the end of training camp, effectively ending his NBA career.

Photo Credit: New York Times

Then-Nets head coach Lawrence Frank said at the time, "He's a first-class kid. He's someone we're obviously all rooting for. It just comes down to a numbers game, but we felt it was best at this time to let him go and evaluate some other options. What a great kid."

During the Bill Simmons podcast appearance, Simmons brought up Jason Kidd in relation to the point guard's initial time with the Dallas Mavericks.  This lead to the following from Williams:

"Can I just tell you how much I love J. Kidd?  I did a short stint with the Nets and Lawrence Frank was the Head Coach and the first couple of days of training camp Lawrence Frank drops this big ass book on my desk and he's like 'here are all the plays.  If you're going to make this team, you need to memorize them all.'  And I was like 'holy shit what am I a quarterback?  What kind of book is this?'  So then we're in the game, in practice, and J. Kidd is coming down and Lawrence yells out a play.  J. (Kidd) looks at him like 'I don't know what this play is.'  And J. (Kidd) goes wide and runs a screen and roll and all this stuff.  So I said "J., what's the secret?' (and Jason Kidd says) 'Just don't listen to Lawrence Frank.  He doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.  He's going to be gone in a year, anyway, Jay.  And I'll be here.'"

Photo Credit: Andy Lyons

I found this anecdote to be unseemly in many ways.

1) I don't like that Jay Williams is saying that this is why he loves Jason Kidd.  Why?  What did it get you?

2) What is the problem with a big playbook?

3) I don't like what it tells me about the secret, inner-workings of Jason Kidd.  I thought Lawrence Frank was the coach Jason Kidd was pining for, when he was pushing for the removal of Byron Scott?  What is so bad about this high level of preparation?  Kidd wouldn't be traded for another year-and-a-half.  How long was he not listening to Frank?  And if this is truly how he felt in 2006, why did he make LFrank his top assistant when he himself became head coach of the Brooklyn Nets in 2013?

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