'A bad feeling'
Bucks forward Williams laments suspension
Not for the flagrant foul on MVP Allen Iverson that drew the suspension -- but for not being able to be at the First Union Center with his teammates as they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
"It was one of the most difficult things I ever had to do in sports," said Williams, an 11-year veteran who missed the Bucks' 108-91 loss to the Sixers on Sunday. "I felt as though I couldn't help my team in any way, and that was a bad feeling to have to sit in the hotel and watch."
And he really felt bad when the Bucks began to get outrebounded and their dreams of reaching the NBA Finals began to dim, he said.
"I just wanted to see our guys do well, and when things started to slip away, I felt bad for the guys. I wanted to be there," said Williams, who won three rings in Chicago in the early 1990s. "Even if I was suspended, I still wanted to be on the bench and console my teammates."
Williams could have been at the First Union Center up until two hours before tipoff, but he decided not to chance any run-ins with fans in the city where he spent 4 1/2 miserable seasons before jump-starting his career in Milwaukee.
So, he stayed at the team hotel all day.
"That was the most difficult part, to have to spend the end of the season at the hotel, apart from the guys that you were in the trenches with all year long," Williams said.
Head coach George Karl said Williams' absence wasn't the primary reason for the Bucks' loss, but Glenn Robinson said it played a major factor.
"That was very tough. I called it the 'Conspiracy of the Milwaukee Bucks,'" Robinson said. "In the playoffs, everybody gets fouled hard. I've been fouled hard a couple of times. I've dished out a few hard fouls. And I don't think that foul was hard enough for him to get a 'flagrant 2' and for him to get suspended."
Williams said he didn't intend to hurt Iverson with a high elbow and contended he didn't deserve the suspension because Iverson stayed in the game and finished with 46 points.
Bucks general manager Ernie Grunfeld said losing any starter hurts.
"But that's not what really cost us," he said. "You've got to give Philly credit. Iverson broke through for a huge ball game. Dikembe Mutombo played great, and they had a couple of their role players come in and give them a real nice boost."
What might have hurt the Bucks more was the injury to Ray Allen's right knee when Eric Snow took a fall in front of him and drew the charge in the third quarter.
Allen sat out several minutes. When he returned to the game, he could hardly get back on defense.
Still limping on Monday, Allen said he would visit an orthopedist on Tuesday but didn't feel the injury was serious, although he acknowledged he had never felt so much pain.
"The hardest thing is knowing that I got called for a foul on that play," Allen said.
Allen said Snow admitted tricking the official on the play, too.
"When I came back, he told me, 'You OK?' I said, 'Yeah, I'm fine,'" Allen recounted. "He says, 'You never know what you get away with around here.'"