The "bleep" and "dumb bleep" were bestowed in cruel, insulting letters to the university's basketball office after Georgetown defeated Houston for the '84 NCAA title. In addition to his 19 points and 7 boards, Williams had all but assured the Hoyas of the victory by blocking Akeem Olajuwon's shot with 2:22 to play and his team ahead 74-68.
But after the game—the final score was 84-75—Reggie, on a victory and adrenaline high, tripped embarrassingly over his tongue and turned his interview with CBS's Billy Packer into what seemed an eternity of dead air. The rout was on: Had Georgetown University forsworn its lofty academic reputation and hired an athlete who couldn't speak English?
"I look back and laugh at it. I know I'll just have to live with that now," Williams, 22, says of his first national exposure. "I'm not scared of making a mistake. If I make one, I'm accountable. But I won't make too many."
It has always been a struggle for Williams, but two days this spring will prove it has all been worth it. On May 10 he will receive a degree in sociology from Georgetown. Then in early June he will become one of the top five picks in the NBA draft. It has been a struggle, but not for nothing has Williams been compared with:
Reggie Williams has also been described as a guy who'll bust your chops. He doesn't let anyone push him around. Not when the game is on the line. "Yes, he has a mean streak," says Thompson. "He needs it to survive at his size. Show me a man without a temper, and I'll show you a man not worth his salt."
The bum raps, the mean streak and the struggle have done nothing to diminish Williams. "Out of nowhere Reggie has played himself into prime consideration for Player of the Year along with Steve Alford and David Robinson," says Big East commissioner Dave Gavitt.
"In the open floor you've got no shot at defending him," says Seton Hall coach P.J. Carlesimo.
"When Reggie gets to the NBA, when the floor opens up, it's going to be scary for somebody," says former teammate Michael Jackson, now a volunteer assistant for the Hoyas. "It will be unreal."
"Nobody can really stop him," says St. John's coach Lou Carnesecca.