Sunday we reported on the claims made by former Bulls #1 overall pick and current ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Williams that his Bulls teammates smoked weed before games during his 2002-2003 rookie season.
“I didn’t know how to handle it at first,” Williams said. “I didn’t know how to be around it. Guys were on the bench, trying to kick it to girls in the stands, having ball boys run over. I mean, some guys were high.”
Asked to clarify, Williams said: “There were guys smoking weed before games. Guys asking in the middle of the game, ‘Do you smell popcorn?’ ”
Now some of Williams teammates on that 2002-03 team have spoken out, and they are not pleased at all. Former teammate and young guy at the time, Tyson Chandler called the claim “ridiculous.”
“Nah, I don’t know why he would say something like that,” Chandler said during the 14th annual Knicks Bowl at Chelsea Piers as part of the team’s effort to raise money for the Garden of Dreams Foundation.
“I think that’s ridiculous that he would come out and say something like that,” Chandler went on. “I don’t remember that, to be honest with you. And, it’s just unfortunate that he would make that kind of statement about our team.”
The Chicago Tribune caught up with several more of those teammates who were not pleased that Williams one snitched, and two grouped everyone in with it.
“I like Jay, but when you make blanket statements, you incriminate everyone,” said Rick Brunson, currently a Bobcats assistant coach. “You have to look in the mirror first: ‘Did I contribute to some of those things?’ Your career didn’t go the way it should’ve gone. Let it go. You’re doing a great job on ESPN. You should be honored and blessed the Bulls paid you.”
I think Brunson is referring to the fact that Williams violated his contract and caused his own despair by riding a motorcycle, and eventually having a career ending crash on that motorcycle.
The Bulls paid Williams the full $3 million of that contract, even though they could have had it voided. Donyell Marshall was also on that team, and added these comments.
“My thing is, why say these things now?” said Donyell Marshall, one of the team leaders from 2002-03. “You don’t need to be making people assume. You’re messing up situations for other people. Now, instead of Fred (Hoiberg, coach of Iowa State) focusing on the NCAA tournament or whatever, he’s got to deal with that (crap).”
The Tribune also pointed the fact that Williams and Jalen Rose did not necessarily have the best of relationships at the time, and pointed out a time Rose hammered Williams in the media after Jay missed 5 consecutive free throws in a win.
Tension was palpable between Williams and Jalen Rose, who famously tweaked Williams after the No. 2 overall pick missed all five free-throw attempts in a season-opening victory at Boston. “In the NBA, we just call that choking,” Rose said that night.
I guess we can all continue to search for what the real truth is and was.