Friday, May 6, 2011

Washington Post column: Maryland's Gary Williams was in perpetual motion

For today's The Washington Post ---------------

On the night in 2002 that Maryland won the national championship, I was standing on the Georgia Dome floor with Gary Williams’s daughter, Kristin. As she watched her father cut down the last strand of net, she said, “Maybe now he can relax a little.”

I laughed and said something like, “Have you met your father?”

Relaxing was never something Gary Williams was any good at during his remarkable career as a basketball coach. On that same night, when I congratulated him on reaching the top of the mountain he had spent his entire adult life trying to scale, he shook his head almost as if he was bewildered. “I’m not sure what I’m going to do with myself tomorrow.”

Now that he has decided to retire after 22 years at Maryland, who knows what Gary will do with himself.
“I didn’t want to be one of those coaches who is still hanging around at 70 and can’t stand up to get off the bench during a game,” he said in a phone conversation Thursday. “I’m 66. There are a lot of things I want to do.”

I know he believes that right now. I know he was worn out by a lot of things: 15 years of battling an athletic director who couldn’t stand Williams being the face of Maryland sports; the skepticism of his own fans even after he revived a beleaguered program and delivered its only national championship; the complete cesspool high school recruiting has become; and, finally, his most talented player’s misguided decision to turn pro rather than return for his junior season.

Gary would never put it on any kid, but I suspect Jordan Williams’s departure was the last straw.

“I told Joe Smith to go; I told Chris Wilcox to go; I told Steve Francis to go,” he said a couple of weeks ago. “They were lock lottery picks. Jordan’s not. It’s better for him to come back. Sure, we’re better with him than without him, but I’ve been at this long enough that I think I can look a player in the eye and tell them the truth.”

Click here for the rest of the column: Maryland's Gary Williams retires


Anonymous said...

Gary is a class act in a business that currrently suffers from a lack of class. I hope he finds happiness in retirement, and lives to reap the rewards that he deserves.

Anonymous said...

MD is a TOP 10 job that has been looking up at mediocrity for the past 8 years or so. Gary Williams should have been dismissed long before this day, and I'd imagine he saw that day coming soon due to quickly diminishing contributions and attendance.

Maryland becomes a better program the minute the new hire is announced.

Anonymous said...

John: Great column. I do have a small bone to pick.

You say the "Today’s players often don’t want to hear the truth." I'd argue that it isn't just todays players. No players, in truth almost mo person, wants to hear the truth.

Do you want to sound like an opinionated writer --that's good. Or be labeled as a opinionated old guy complaining about kids today - you're not that old.

Ed said...

John... you surprise me. Not one mention of the poor graduation rates in Maryland athletics. Gary's program was one of the worst in the country, and for a writer who is well-known for his appreciation of the student-athletes in the Patriot League, the column is waaay too flowery. With all these over the top eulogies, you'd think Gary had died.

Anonymous said...

My Top 10 in no particular order:

Ohio State

My bench UCONN, Syracuse, and Arizona

Joe said...

I think the perfect fit for Gary Williams would be coaching at Navy. He is a basketball coach and teaches fundamentals. Almost every one of his players would say that Coach Williams made him a better player. What better players to coach than those who go to college with a higher calling. These are kids who Williams could shape into men that will lead others into battle not on the basketball court but in war. He bleeds integrity as does the former Navy Lacrosse Coach Richie Meade. Mr. Feinstein I think you should champion this cause. Coach Williams could retire at Navy where he would receive the respect he so rightly deserves.