Skip to main content

Walt Williams' "welcome to the NBA" moment with Michael Jordan


You may be the most willing student of the game, listen to every piece of advice given but nothing can fully prepare you for the intensity and the speed of an NBA game. That's why we love hearing about players' "welcome to the NBA" moments. But having that moment with Michael Jordan? That's just bad luck.

Walt Willams was of that (lack of) fortune. To make it even more dramatic, Williams had signed with the Kings that day and flew out to the last preseason game. Without knowing any plays or having any sort of chemistry with the team, Williams played his first minutes in an NBA jersey.

Keeping it simple, Walt found himself in a basic 3-2 pick and roll with Mitch Richmond. Your ordinary pick & pop - the Kings anticipated the Bulls would switch, so as the ball handler, Williams was supposed to pass it to Richmond for an easy shot.

"But when I want off the pick, I just kinda' looked and I said 'Oh man, I got an ISO right here against Jordan.' If I score on him, I can call my boys and let them know I scored on Jordan. So I waved Mitch off, broke the play, and tried to do my ISO. I came right at Jordan with my patented crossover, right to left crossover."

Walt Williams, 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network

Think about it for a second - if you're facing the GOAT in the making, you'd probably try and take him with your go-to move, right? The move you're most comfortable with, the one you pulled off hundreds of times. As Walt learned the hard way, that's a bad idea.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

"Jordan stole that thing, went down, and did his emblem dunk. When he ran back down, he tapped me on the butt and said 'We watch film up here, baby. I knew you was gonna do that fake-ass crossover.'"

Walt Williams, 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network

The good old days when star players played intense preseason minutes, huh? It's not just the fact the Bulls were watching film for a preseason game. As Walt pointed out - he had just signed with the Kings that day. It probably wasn't even in the papers he was playing that day. That means MJ watched film without any scouting on Williams.

"I don't know if they anticipated they knew I was going to play in that preseason game, but he knew certain things I would do out there, for sure."

Walt Williams, 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network

Even one of the most athletic players in the world wasn't great on defense because of his quick-twitch muscles - no one is that fast. Good defense is about knowing tendencies, anticipating moves, and seeing things in advance. But the fact MJ was watching college games and flagged Williams' go-to move somewhere in his mind AND then was able to pull that from his memory and know what's about the happen in a preseason game tells the story of his most underappreciated asset - his basketball intelligence. Gilbert Arenas once described Allen Iverson like this.

"You know that one white boy on every team, who has no talent but goes balls out every day? That was [AI's] mentality, but he was a star. Diving in the stands, he just never stopped. He was trying to score 60 every game"

Gilbert Arenas, via Fubo Sports

MJ worked like "that one white boy on every team, who has no talent but goes balls out every day," except he had all the talent and athleticism in the world. That's why he's the GOAT.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton, guard Jrue Holiday, and forward Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Milwaukee Bucks to host youth programs as part of the NBA Abu Dhabi Games

Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks will be the first NBA teams to play in Abu Dhabi

Phoenix Suns' forward Jae Crowder defending Chicago Bulls' star DeMar DeRozan

Can the Chicago Bulls make a trade for disgruntled Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder?

Find out if the Chicago Bulls can acquire disgruntled Phoenix Suns small forward, Jae Crowder.

Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan with Lonzo Ball

Chicago Bulls head coach Billy Donovan bracing for the entire season without Lonzo Ball

The Bulls are preparing themselves to be competitive while they wait on the health of starting guard Lonzo Ball. Here's what their head coach had to say about the matter.

Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd

"You can't say, 'This is the way I would do it'" — Jason Kidd explains why he never forced his players to emulate his playing style

Kidd's experience on the Lakers coaching staff has proven to be extrememly valuable in his evolution as a coach.

Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon

Greg Anthony singles out the most underrated part of Hakeem Olajuwon's on-court skillset

Everyone praises Hakeem's footwork. Greg Anthony praised his God-given instincts for the game.

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham and general manager Rob Pelinka

How the Los Angeles Lakers could take advantage of the NBA's new rule

The new NBA rule could benefit the Lakers if they implement a run-and-gun system.

North Carolina Tar Heels guard Michael Jordan

“No one knew me until then” — Michael Jordan revealed the most satisfying time of his basketball career

Michael Jordan will never forget his time in North Carolina because of the pressure he had to conquer to make a name for himself.