And you thought I forgot about it, huh? November 18 is a national holiday in my household. Back in the day, it meant playing The Diplomats “Who I Am” on repeat, spinning a ball on my fingertips while reading Tom Friend’s ESPN features on the man who tattooed WHIT EBOY on his fingers.
The retired Jason Williams turned 38 years old today, and if an era wasn’t already dying, it’s officially gone now. Being retired assures us of that.
I’ve written at length about #55 many times before, almost too many times. So that was out of the question. There’s nothing else that hasn’t already been written. What better way to celebrate his birthday than by celebrating his genius with highlight tapes?
Here are the top 10 YouTube mixes from Williams:
10. Jason Williams & La Roux
This song can make anything seem epic and world-changing. Williams’ once-in-a-generation combination of handles and confidence didn’t need much help in that regard, but if you grew up watching this cat play, then there’s no way this video won’t give you goosebumps. The video loses points for failing to showcase some of his rarer gems, instead keeping it simple with highlights that you’ve definitely seen before.
9. Jason Williams In College
In truth, J-Will really only got drafted on the strength of one game: an eight-point upset win in Kentucky where Florida’s PG dropped 24 points and made a mockery of the Wildcats’ vaunted press. Williams played just 20 games at Florida, averaging 17.1 points and 6.7 assists before being suspended and thrown off the team for failing a third drug test. By the time he finally got to the league, he was virtually an unknown to many basketball fans. (Remember, things were a lot different back in the day without YouTube.). There’s a chance you’ve never seen some of these highlights.
8. Jason Williams “The Style”
The title says it all. So does the music — Williams had legions of worshipping fans all over the world.
7. Jason Williams In 2005 NBA Playoffs
Trying to hunt down rare highlights from J-Dub’s Memphis experience is always tough. However, there is this video showcasing his final games with the Grizzlies. Despite being swept 4-0 by Phoenix, this was perhaps the greatest individual playoff stretch of his career. Facing off against league MVP Steve Nash, Williams was spectacular, shooting nearly 53 percent (10-for-21 from deep) and averaging 17.0 points, 5.3 assists and 1.5 steals in less than 29 minutes per game. On top of that, he made Nash look foolish more than a few times.
6. Jason Williams In His Rookie Year
Depending on how you view it, the background info at the start of the tape is either perfect or boring. But once we jump past that and into the white, purple and black, it picks up. Name me one other NBA player who could put together a tape this good where the highlights are pulled almost exclusively from one 50-game stretch? Anyone who has full-game tapes of that season knows Williams was pulling out two or three moves a game that were blowing people’s minds.
5. Jason Williams & Poverty
This mix features a ton of rare moves and in-game footage that you’ll never see on most highlight reels. Backed by Poverty‘s “Let Us Raise You,” most of the tape comes from his second and third seasons in the NBA, and shows off a decent amount of playoff footage against the Lakers.
4. Jason Williams & Weirdly-Fitting Music
You can either embrace the music (“Wicked And Weird”) for its funkiness, or completely ignore it because the artist (Buck 65) seems way off his rocker. Either way, there are some rare clips in here and a nice mix of jumpers, passes and drives.
3. Jason Williams & The Beastie Boys
It’s not because they’re white. But somehow the Beastie Boys mix well with Jay. This video gets extra points because it showcases Williams when his swagger was at its zenith. It’s not always about the best highlights. To really appreciate him, sometimes you just have to watch him running full speed, throwing the ball out in front of him, arms flailing, blowing smoke out of his mouth.
2. Jason Williams & Eminem
Most people will remember Williams’ finest moment as his rookie season. It came before the problems, before the benchings and the failed promise. But he was at his absolute craziest in his second season. Rick Adelman and Sacramento hadn’t reined him in yet. He was living off adrenaline from the first year, and hadn’t done anything but up the ante on the “wild” meter since that first season. This wasn’t close to his best season. But it might’ve been his craziest… and this video is filled with sophomore J-Will (as well as a bunch from his third year).
1. Jason Williams & Guns N’ Roses
Numero uno. The top spot. The champ. The ringleader. The beast. The capper. This is everything I’d envision out of a Jason Williams highlight tape: fast, unwavering and abusive. The part in “Welcome To The Jungle” when they’re yelling na, na, na, na, na, na… I can totally see Williams making a great play and then rushing up the sideline screaming that at the crowd. These highlights aren’t too bad either. The final few seconds is also the only way we could conclude this list.
Which one do you think is the best?
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