The defining night
of Marvin Williams's rookie year was not Dec. 20, when he dropped 26 points on
the Miami Heat with a dazzling display of power and finesse. It was the night
before, when some of his teammates went prowling in South Beach, where
temptation comes in many forms, most of them wearing microminis. Williams told
his teammates he wasn't interested in going out. "He just wanted to go back
to the hotel, but nobody would let him," says forward Josh Childress.
"It got to the point where we said we'd fine him if he didn't come with us.
He's like, 'O.K., how much?' I don't remember the [final] number, but it was
ridiculous, like 10 grand. He still didn't want to go. He was going to pay the
Despite his instant
NBA fame and fortune Williams remains as down-to-earth as he was the day in the
fall of 2004 when he showed up at Chapel Hill and graciously agreed to come off
the bench. (Thus, the No. 2 pick in last year's draft never started a game in
college.) In a league in which the only thing many players read is the Robb
Report, Williams is an unabashed Harry Potter enthusiast who's happy to wait
for the paperback edition of Harry's latest adventures to save a few bucks.
Williams's UNC teammates love to laugh about his penny-pinching, and nothing
has changed even though he's making $3.9 million this year.
"During summer league Marvin wanted to buy a PlayStation, so we roll to the
mall, but when we get to the store, he's like, 'Man, it's $200.' He couldn't do
Of course Williams
was drafted for more than just his uncommon maturity. In baseball he'd be
referred to as a five-tool player. Still, the Hawks are bringing Williams along
slowly, which has been made easier by a roster crowded with forwards. (The
team's obvious need for a true point guard has created plenty of grousing
around the league--not without justification--that its pick would have been
better spent on Chris Paul, the presumptive Rookie of the Year who was taken
fourth overall by the Hornets.) In 23.5 minutes a game he's averaging 7.5
points and 4.7 rebounds, though he's coming on strong, having scored in double
figures in seven of his last 12 games. Among the four Tar Heels first-rounders,
Williams has had the toughest adjustment. "We lost nine in a row to start
the year, and I thought I was gonna die," Williams says. "Seriously. I
couldn't sleep. I was staring at the ceiling until three or four every
Williams says he
has learned to play through the losses, and that's not the only thing that has
changed for him as the season has wore on. Says May, "I called Marv the
other day about midnight and asked what he was doing, and he's like, 'You know
me--I'm about to step out.'
'Excuse me, step out where?'
"Hey, everybody gets older, right?"
As a second-year
team Charlotte figured to be in for a rough season, but it hasn't helped that
the Bobcats have been decimated by injuries. May's absence from the post has
been exacerbated by the ankle injury to the team's starting power forward,
reigning Rookie of the Year Emeka Okafor, who has played only one game since
mid-December. The Bobcats' locker room has turned into a MASH unit, but Felton
has missed only one game, which is impressive because he suffered back and neck
injuries in a fender-bender during the All-Star break.