Bucks' Williams out for Game 7
Flagrant foul against Iverson was third of playoffs
Updated: Sunday June 03, 2001 3:09 AM
The NBA handed down the punishment just before the Bucks' charter plane left Milwaukee for Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon. The players declined to comment when they arrived at their hotel.
Williams issued a statement saying he was disappointed.
"I did not intend to injure Allen Iverson," Williams said. "I was just competing hard to try and win a basketball game. It's a tough pill to swallow. I'll put it behind me and rely on my teammates to give me another shot at playing in the NBA Finals. I have all the confidence in the world in them."
Williams' career has been rejuvenated in Milwaukee after 4 1/2 miserable seasons in Philadelphia, which followed a three-year title run in Chicago.
Before the team left Milwaukee, Williams took part in practice and said he didn't deliberately elbow Iverson in the chin and throat in the opening minutes of Game 6 on Friday night.
Williams said he meant to hit Iverson hard but not high.
"I wasn't trying to commit a flagrant foul or hurt him in any way," Williams said before learning of the suspension. "I have a knack for trying to get in the lane and draw charges when people come flying down the lane. And he's a little quicker than I thought he was and he's a little a little smaller than I thought he was."
But NBA Senior VP Stu Jackson reclassified the foul as a "flagrant foul penalty 2," meaning Williams is automatically suspended for one game for accumulating too many penalty points in the playoffs. Williams already had committed flagrant fouls against Orlando on April 22, and against Charlotte on May 17.
"It's just disappointing that a subjective judgment takes a guy out of a very important basketball game for his team and for himself," Bucks coach George Karl said. "I feel bad for him."
General manager Ernie Grunfeld said he got word of the suspension just before the team left Mitchell International Airport.
"I'm surprised, disappointed. I don't agree with the decision, but they made it, it's a judgment call and their judgment was it's a flagrant 2," Grunfeld said. "It's unfortunate Scott will miss the game, but we move forward, put it behind us and focus on the job at hand, which is to win Game 7."
Karl said he felt sad for Williams "especially because he's been a great part of our run."
"I don't think it's the right call but I don't think it's going to disturb my team," Karl said from Philadelphia. "I think my team is focused and excited about what we have to do tomorrow and we just got another challenge ahead of us, another obstacle to overcome."
Williams will have to watch Sunday's game on television.
"Scott is very disappointed," Grunfeld said. "He's worked hard to get to this level. He's had a lot of injuries in the past three or four years, rehabbed, gotten back to a very good level. He didn't want to let his teammates down. But he's going to be supporting us in spirit."
Without Williams, the Bucks will turn to another former Sixers player, forward Tim Thomas, to step up in Milwaukee's biggest game in nearly three decades.
Williams said he saw he was beaten on the play in which he smacked Iverson, so he just tried to get a hand on Iverson's hip.
"He's so low to the ground. I never got my elbow higher than about my rib cage and it just happened to catch him right at the chin," Williams said.
Williams never averaged more than 6.4 points during his 4 1/2 seasons in Philadelphia, where he was reviled almost to the same degree that Matt Geiger is nowadays.
Nobody's ever accused Williams, an 11-year veteran, of being a goon. But Iverson said Williams' flagrant foul was a deliberate cheap shot.
Iverson didn't retaliate Friday night. But on Saturday he took a verbal jab at Williams.
"I understand the magnitude of the game. I can't get thrown out. I see a lot of their big guys take hits at me," Iverson said. "In situations like that, some of our big guys have to handle the situation. It's Scott Williams. I'll feel real bad if I let Scott Williams hurt me."
After flooring Iverson, Williams proceeded to play his best game of the series, scoring 12 points, including 10 of Milwaukee's first 14 points after averaging just three points in the series.
Williams said that while he never meant to hurt Iverson, he certainly intended to set the tone at both ends of the court.
"I think as an older, veteran player with experience in these types of situations, that's my responsibility," Williams said. "That's my job. ... We'd been talking about not getting pushed around."
Williams said the reason his elbow had something extra to it was that he wanted to make sure to deny the basket.
"I like to do things that fire up our team," Williams said. "But I'm not trying to take credit for knocking a guy on his keister and getting my team fired up. That's not my style of basketball.
"I've always said I'm a strong, aggressive player. But I'm not a dirty player."