Trail blazers guard Alvin Williams has no use for flash. He demonstrated this before the rookie all-star game last Saturday, when Grizzlies guard Antonio Daniels tried to get all the Western Conference players to join Nuggets guard Bobby Jackson in pulling their socks up to their knees. "Alvin wouldn't do it," Daniels said with a laugh afterward. "He said it wasn't his style."
Williams just wants to play the game, and lately he's been playing it pretty well. He has emerged as the primary backup for both point guard Kenny Anderson and shooting guard Isaiah Rider, and with Williams in the stalling lineup, the Blazers were 7-1 at the All-Star break. Not bad for a guy drafted with the 48th pick. " Portland has given me an opportunity, and I'm trying to make the most of it," says the soft-spoken Williams, who averages 6.4 points and 2.0 assists. "I've still got a lot to prove, not only to others, but to myself as well."
Although he shuns fancy passes and seldom dunks, the 6'5" Williams is a steady jump shooter who plays solid D. He started all 67 games his junior and senior years at Villanova, averaging 17.1 points and 3.8 assists as a senior, but he was overshadowed by teammates Kerry Kittles, Jason Lawson and Tim Thomas. As a result he didn't attract much attention from NBA scouts and general managers. One exception was Mike Dunleavy, who kept tabs on Williams when he was G.M. of the Bucks. After Dunleavy became the Blazers' coach last May, he was thrilled to learn that Portland general manager Bob Whitsitt had also been interested in Williams. Both men loved his skill on the court and his humble demeanor off it.
Although Williams played sparingly the first few weeks of the season, he opened a lot of eyes on Nov. 26 when he stepped in for the injured Anderson and racked up 12 points and six assists against Timberwolves guard Stephon Marbury in a 96-90 road win. Two weeks later Williams dropped in 16 points (on 7-of-10 shooting) and dished out three assists against Nick Van Exel in a 105-99 victory over the Lakers. "Alvin is very versatile and makes good decisions with the ball," Dunleavy says. "And he's one of the best defenders, for a rookie, I've ever seen."
Williams credits his parents with giving him the confidence to pursue his NBA dream. His father, Alvin Sr., is chief of security for Major League Baseball, and his mother, Alfreda, is a dietitian at a school for handicapped children. "They taught me about hard work," Williams says. "Everything I do is for them."
His folks were in attendance at Madison Square Garden for the rookie game, a ragged, fast-breaking 85-80 loss by the West in which Williams attempted only three shots and scored four points. "A couple of times I was yelling at Alvin to shoot it," says the 76ers' Thomas, who played for the East. "But he wouldn't do it. That's just not his way."