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Talking With: Shammond Williams

When I first heard the news this summer about the Lakers signing free agent Shammond Williams, my immediate reaction was, "Dude! Blast from the past!" I hadn't thought much about the guy since around 2001, when his solid play off Seattle's bench led to a multiyear deal. From there, Shammond bounced around the league for a bit, eventually opting to play in Europe (where, among other achievements, he was the 2005 FIBA Europe League All-Star game MVP). He's now sporting the purple and gold, but the amount of minutes he'll be logging in an already crowded point guard rotation remains to be seen. Williams doesn't have all the answers, but he was more than willing to take my questions. Here's what he had to say.

Andrew Kamenetzky: How happy are you to be both back in the NBA and with the Lakers?

Shammond Williams: Well, being back in the NBA, it's not like I was, "Aw! I gotta get back to the NBA!" That was not something that I felt like was gonna make me or break me, because it was my decision to go play in Europe. But being here in L.A. is great. First and foremost, you get to run for one of the best coaches that ever coached a game. I've had opportunity to learn from great coaches from high school to college. And now you get Phil Jackson and that's great in and of itself. When you're a basketball fanatic and you love the game, that's great just having an opportunity to obtain knowledge from these guys. Tex Winter. Jim Cleamons. Coach Frank (Hamblem). B-Shaw. It's just a great atmosphere. And a great stage to play on. I'm just taking on as much as I can to help this team go to the next level.

AK: I would imagine that as a point guard, the heady aspects of the game that you mentioned appeal to you.

SW: Oh, I love it. I love it. Because the game is about reads. The game is about moving the basketball. Making reads. Everyone pretty much gets the flow of the game. Everybody knows, or should know, where that spot is on the floor, so you don't have too many people drifting. Everybody knows where they should be, so that kind of helps you in the point guard aspect, because you control the floor. You're trying to make sure everybody is where they need to be offensively, as well as defensively. You're trying to steer people and put people in the right positions to be successful.

AK: Can you talk a little about what prompted you to choose to play in Europe?

SW: Well, what really happened, the first thing that happened was Zaza Pachulia, one of my teammates from Orlando (during the 2003-2004 season), asked if I would be interested in helping his team try to qualify for the World Championships. I said, sure. It's basketball. I didn't know the political apsects of it, but just playing the game of basketball, sure. So I went and played in the World Championships with (the Unics Kazan of the Russian Superleague). I was granted dual citizenship, so I got a Georgian passport and got the opportunity to play and we did a good job.

It was, you get to play the game of basketball like you want to play. I had already played six years in the league, so monetarily what I was being offered (by NBA teams), I didn't like. A European team came and offered me double what I make in the NBA. So I took it. It was just the contracts I didn't like. Plus, I had been traded the past two seasons at the trade deadline. I was in Boston (in 2002-2003). We were on top of the Atlantic. We get to the trade deadline, they traded me to Denver. At that time, I was having a good season, the team was having a great season. We had beaten New Jersey, who had beaten (us) prior in the Eastern Conference Finals. And then they traded me and later, they didn't get past New Jersey (in the ensuing playoffs). They got swept. Then the next season, I was in Orlando, then I got traded to New Orleans. In New Orleans, (then-Coach Tim Floyd) wouldn't play me. He said if I had been there in the beginning of the season, he probably would have played me. Then we're in Game 7 (of the 2004 Eastern Conference opening round) against Miami and Lamar. We're down 15. With seven minutes left in the game, he put me in and we cut the lead down to 2. But we eventually lost.

You just feel like you weren't respected. When you're not respected, especially in the game of basketball when you know what you're doing, you wanna go somewhere where people respect you. That kind of helped facilitate the decision (to play for Winterthur FC Barcelona) as well.

AK: Did that time in Europe playing with a respect factor help give you either a new lease on or a different appreciation for the game?

SW: Well, yeah. The thing I thought I was I just wanted to be a winner. And while I was there, I won. And people know that. I may not have had the best team, but I was able to steer maybe one of the elite teams in Europe. I take pride in that myself. Those things you can't overlook, because if you're really about the game of basketball, you want winners. You want people that know how to win.

AK: You're over here now. Have you talked at all with Phil and the rest of the coaching staff about what they'll be looking for from you?

SW: Well, right now, I haven't really. They just want me to get a grasp of the offense and I think they understand that I know how to play the game of basketball and I'll make the right plays. Once we get playing, they're gonna pretty much say, "Shammond, you should have made that pass." Or, "You should have looked here." I think they see that I know to play the game of basketball, offensively as well as defensively. Unfortunately, I'm not 100% yet, but I'm getting there. And they're working with me on my health and understanding how they want the team to play.

AK: What's ailing you right now?

SW: Well, I've just been going through a pelvis injury that I've been dealing with for four months now, so I really just started playing just last month. Just being able to run a little bit. But it's a tough process. The Lakers have done a great job of trying to get me healthy. It's been great.

AK: Are you finding your comfort level growing in the offense?

SW: Well, the offense is good. I think I understand the movements. Now it's more or less, the more you get to play, because we've been going through instruction, instruction, instruction. Instructional kinds of practice. But when we get to playing, it flows a little better. It's great. I'm grasping it and I think I'm on par.

AK: There's a lot of competition at your spot.

SW: I don't worry about that, because when you talk about competition, competition is one thing. Doing it in the game is another thing. Having the opportunity to do it is another thing. There are some things you can control and some things you can't. And the only thing I can control is me knowing what I can do, what I'm capable of doing and getting my opportunity to do it.

AK: Do you like having a fellow North Carolina Tar Heel as a GM?

SW: Oh yeah. (laughs) When you get out here and you start thinking about the game of basketball, Mitch, by far, is a fellow Tar Heel. We had talks about me coming here last year, being a fellow Tar Heel, and things didn't work out. But this year, it worked out and Mitch is a great person beyond anything else. Even though we're from the same university and play for the same coach. He's a great person and you like working for great people and working with great people. That's one thing I can say. You just look at the individuals we have here. Lamar is a great individual. Kobe is a great individual. Aaron McKie, great guy. You're in an atmosphere of great people and that makes a working environment a lot better, when you can jell and be cohesive with your teammates. That's great in itself.

AK: When you were overseas, did you get to see any of the games against Phoenix in the playoffs?

SW: I was able to see a game or two. I wasn't able to see the whole thing, because we were in a playoff series ourselves. But I was able to see little things, a few things.

AK: At the time, you didn't realize you were going to be a part of this team. But having seen it, in retrospect, could you see yourself being a part of what they were doing?

SW: Well, yeah. There's a lot of teams I see myself being a part of or could have been a part of, but situations happen. In the games, if you're saying, "Well, if Shammond was there, would he have made that shot?" OK, if I was there, there's a possbility I wouldn't have gotten that shot, you know? So you can't say ifs and ands. All you can say is, "Do I feel like I could help this team?" Yes, I feel like I could help this team. I feel like I could help a lot of teams. But it's just like I said before. It's the opportunity and what they want from me. You can help a team, but if the opportunity's not presented, then you can't help. If there's something that you do that you're capable of doing and they don't want to you do that, then you can't do that.

AK: Aside from Jordan Farmar, a rookie, you've spent less time in the system than any of the point guards on the roster. But outside of McKie, you're also the most experienced. Do you see that as an interesting balance or a dichotomy?

SW: Yeah. I look at my experience and knowing how to play the game, it's a big upside when you have a lot of young guys around, because you're trying to help them along too. It's like, you make plays instinctively, but you do learn that a lot of the younger players, their instincts aren't the same as yours. They may result in a turnover. So you pull them off to the side and you try to tell them, "If this happens, this is what's going to happen." Because the NBA is younger, a lot of times, they don't have the time to be taught. And that's one of the things that I take pride in, me being an older player and playing the game, it's my job to try to help these guys get better mentally. The IQ of the game. Pick up their IQ of the game up, help them understand how to play the game of basketball.

Everybody says, "Look at how Phoenix plays and Dallas plays" and things like that. And it's just those people play the game the right way. It's not like they created the wheel. They didn't create the wheel. They're just playing the game the right way. The guy's open, move the basketball. Be an unselfish player. Work together. Five people are on the court. These teams didn't create the wheel. They're just playing together as a team. Nobody thinks they're bigger than the team. They're unselfish. When you're unselfish, everybody feels a part of it. Everybody has their superstars, but everybody needs to contribute.

AK: I saw you talking with Bynum a little bit after practice. It looked like you were instructing him on something.

SW: Just on a pick and roll. We ran pick and roll today and I drew his man because he never rolled. One of the coaches said he's not used to that because he's not used to getting (the ball). Well, OK, now you have somebody who's willing to give you the basketball in that positon. It's not gonna work if you don't roll. Just helping him understand what's going on.

AK: And you enjoy that end of it?

SW: Oh, yeah. Because the game has to be taught. If the game's not taught, then people get a misconception of what the game of basketball is. Like I said before, it's not that the European game is better than the U.S. game, it's that they play a different style of basketball. They understand that the team is more important than the individual. And when they get that aspect, like you said, all 12 guys feel like they're a part of what's going on. And they win.

 
Comments () | Archives (30)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Can this guy help defend the pick and roll. Thats what I'm worried about.

Hey AK, I believe Shammond was saying, that Phoenix and Dallas, didnt invent the wheel. Its a great line from the movie New Jack City. This was a great interview. Any shot at that Ronnie Turiaf interview, have you had a chance to catch up with him yet?

Najja,

Nice pick up. Williams has that Carolina drawl, so it was hard to tell. I thought maybe he meant "will" as in "the will to win," but what you're saying is much more likely. Thanks a bunch.

As far as Turiaf, I haven't had a chance to run him down yet, but he's on my list. I'll grab him soon enough.

AK

Are there any readers, other than me, that were unimpressed by Shammond in this interview? I'm not saying he gives terrible responses, but it just seams really Shammond-centric and contradictory to the type of responses that everyone else has been giving. With hope, I just misinterpreted his responses and he's really on the same page as everyone else.

Go SHAMMOND!

I just see Shammond as being a self-assured individual as far as his knowledge of the game of basketball...That's all it was (IMO.

Bynum never rolled? And Rambis said he just shot left-handedly the first time. Looks like he's a slow learner.

bmurph -

I caught that also. Seems like he's not that thrilled to be a Laker.

He is definately on the self-assured/cocky roll in that interview. He was insinuating a lot of prowess on the court, we will just have to see if he can back it up. Now, if I started talking smack like that about hoops. You can just laugh me right off the court. He does have an All-Star MVP title though.

Does the Euro League treat the All-Star game with as much meaning as we do? If so that woulnd't mean a whole lot.

I felt a bit optimistic and a bit reluctant about his interview. We just need more info before me pass judgement here I think. PS Game 1 tonight, lets see if he steps up.

AK will you or BK be at the game or will you be relying on the same radio info we are?

T-Woody
Proud 55 Win Member
24/7

I don't know about him not being thrilled -- I think there is nothing to those words other than somebody who is "staying in the moment". He's been in the league before so he knows what to expect. Every situation is a learning experience and he's learned plenty from this travels -- travels that took him to the EURO league. I think he feels fortunate to be around the basketball minds within the ORG and prove he belongs cuz he sounds very confident about his knowledge of the game. Maybe I am wrong, but that is what I gathered from the interview.

Williams is obviously unfamiliar with the Lakers and it shows. I would not expect him to be on the same page as the core of KB24, LO, Luke, Kwame, Smush, Cookie, Bynum, or even Farmar. He's been overseas, in Europe and is just trying to re-integrate into the L.
His experience shows through, and I hope Farmar realize that that's the guy he's going to have to beat out for playing time. I like the fact that he is not gushy and all, but instead is very down to earth.
He knows the game and is realistic about his health, abilities and expectations. I found his interview a refreshing change from all the giddiness.

bmurph,

Well, he's being indoctrinated again to NBA after playing in Europe where he is a go-to-guy. Eventually, he will realize his role of a facilitator in giving the ball to Kobe, Lamar, Vlad or Kwame and when there are no openings, he's the man. He appears to have confidence with himself since he's an elder tho' he carries with him a lot of baggages of a journeyman in the NBA, being traded from one team to another to fill in the need on a short tenure. Well, he recovered his self esteem in the European League that's the source of his renewed confidence of himself. It could be good or bad, but it will depend on his relationship with his teammates and with Phil.

I liked Shammond's interview. We need guys like him on the team who have a high basketball IQ.

Xodus -- so you feelin' me?? We agree.

I don't see anything wrong with what he's said. He's confident he can make a difference, not cocky. And I don't think that he's not grateful to play, but the NBA is not what it takes for him to be happy. Seems like he has his head screwed on straight.

I did, however, find a hint of Raja Bell in there.
Respect his authoritah!

AK are you or BK going to the game tonight? I think I speak for everyone here, We would like updates if possible. I don't know if the live blogging will be in force during the preseason or not.

T-Woody

Its great to finally hear from this guy, I think he is a vet who can really make an impact.

he does come off a little too self-assured, but i'm more concerned about this pelvis injury he's had for four months. when did we sign him? was this pre-existing? have seen no other mention of this anywhere.

T-Woody,

Nope, we won't be in Fresno. But we're gonna try to make it to Anaheim for Thursday's game against the Sonics.

AK

I hear everybody on the outside saying that Radmanovic was the only significant acquisition, but I get a feeling that Shammond Williams is going to have a bigger role in the team. He's going take the starting PG spot, and allow Smush to be more effective as the first guard off the bench. Depth and versatility...the Lakers are going to be a top three team in the west.

AK- I HEAR FRESNO IS BEAUTIFUL THIS TIME OF YEAR????

OF COURSE ANAHEIM IS BEAUTIFUL YEAR ROUND.

THE CLIPS SHOULD BE IN ANAHEIM

BUT NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Shammond is a no d gunner, if you had problems when Fisher was here, Shammond is going to give you a heart attack.

Hopefully, he rides the pine all season.

First I'd like to say, if he's just confident, that's fine.

But I'm not sure exactly what he's telling me (us, K Bros). First he goes on to say that he hasn't talked to Phil, so he doesn't really know what role he'll play...then he goes on to say he picked this opportunity, cause he knows what role he'll play---or how he can help this team. I'm confused. Then he goes on to say "I know how to play the game of basketball and I'll make the right plays," while I appreciate that he knows how to play basketball...to me that sounded like, he ain't gonna be playing triangle basketball. But that might be just me.

Nevetheless, I'm happy he's taking the younguns aside and mentoring them somewhat.

P.S. Having said that, I wouldn't be surprised if he has a great season, it seems like it's always the people we don't expect...or in last year's case, the people we expect (Kobe) and those we didn't expect (everyone else lol).

As long as this dude doesn't pull a "Mckie" on the team, he'll contribute (at least offensively).

GO LAKERS!

lakersrydeordie,

I definitely agree with you. There's nothing wrong with him saying that he knows basketball. It shows confidence and he sounds like he's a fundamentally sound basketball player.

And if that's true he'll be strong within the triangle, because as much as people try to complcate the triangle it is based upon fundamental basketball principles. Principles such as ball movement, cutting and moving without the ball to name a few.

Shammond eh??? I think we can use some attitude on this team. I'd rather see a guy with some confidence and who can speak for themselves.

Players nowadays say exactly what we want them to hear. You actually believe it when Wade says "he likes sharing the ball and distributing" NO!!

If these players had a choice, theyd take every shot and run up their stats. So I'm glad that Shammond has the grapes to admit he knows the game.

A little bit of attitude can go a long way. He can either turn into a disgruntled teamate like Doug Christie or a player with attitude like my man Turiaf.

Go Shammond.

I think PJ has a few options in front of him.

Overall Basketball experience and attitude with Shammond
Athleticism and Triangle knowledge with Smushy
or
Basketball IQ and Energy with Farmar.

Im liking our chances this season. Go Lakers!

The truth was set today. This guy is going to play hard while he's on the floor (a la pre injury Earl Boykins) Players like this help teams gel. Not afraid to step between confrontation in practice etc.

Plus the triangle opens up shooters (Kerr, Armstrong, Paxson)In EuroLeague AllStar games are more competitive (different areas participate) so thats a big deal. He could've been here last year. Just log on fiba.com do some searches on him. Handles his B.I. Will swing too (respect authoritah-ask Vladimir Stepania in Seattle)

Jordan Kobe
Pippen LO
Grant Kwame (in time)
Armstrong, Shammond
Kerr, Paxon Smush, Farmar
Cartwright Mihm, Bynum

Building in right direction now just let them stick together and things work themselves out

Hey everyone,

I had the fortune of meeting and hanging out with Shammond here in Spain. I can tell you firsthand that he is the real deal. I´m sure you will all be pleasantly surprised with is playing.


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