A feeder turned eater, Hot Plate played just 51 games over the last three seasons before the Washington Bullets gave up on him, dispatching him to the Clippers in an October trade. He had exceeded the Bullets' expectations only in weight, and he missed the entire 1991-92 season because he was carrying too many extra pounds. Hot Plate has created a mythical team he calls the Williamsburg Williamses, a team composed entirely of his namesakes. He rattles off a mock play-by-play: "Williams dribbles down the floor and flips it to Williams, who pulls up and fires. The shot is short and grabbed by Williams, who alley-oops to Williams for the basket...."
How can you tell which Williams is which?
"It doesn't matter, as long as we win."
Williams the Conniver. Jayson Williams is called Hot Head because he's always running into piques. As a sophomore at St. John's, he was suspended from the 1988 Big East tournament after punching an opponent and chucking a metal folding chair at a fan. As a Philadelphia 76er sophomore in 1992, he cracked a beer mug over a heckler's head after a late-night drink with Charles Barkley. The cops called it self-defense.
The 76ers tossed this Hot Potato to the New Jersey Nets last October. He has not only kept out of trouble but out of uniform as well. Jayson missed 26 games with a sprained ankle, played one minute in his comeback game against the Los Angeles Lakers, then reinjured himself lifting weights on Jan. 27. He will be out until April with a dislocated left ankle and fractured left fibula.
He hobbles around the Net locker room in a dark shirt and dark glasses, his face practically smothered in a high turtleneck collar. "It's one thing being Jayson Williams, another getting mixed up with Jason Williams," he says, meaning the star of the porn classic Flesh Gordon. "When I hear about Jason Williams in the gossip columns I think, Damn, I must be in trouble again."
Williams the Conifer. At 6'9" and 200 pounds, Lorenzo Williams looks like a well-pruned fir tree. The journeyman swingman leads the league in acronyms, especially DNP—Did Not Play. He has marked time in the CBA, the USBL, the GBL and the IBA (that's the Israeli Basketball Association). In the NBA this season, he has been passed from Charlotte to Orlando to Boston. "I've never been on a pro team with another Williams," he says. "That would be something special, something I'd always remember." When reminded that Brian Williams was his teammate in Orlando, Lorenzo says, "Oh, yeah. I guess I forgot about him."
Williams the Contortionist. Walt Williams, the Sacramento Kings' acrobatic rookie forward, has an Uncle William. "He goes by William Williams, but his real name is Walt," Walt says. "Everybody calls him Snowball."
Uncle Snowball used to call his nephew June Bug. "That's short for Junior," says Walt. When Junior was a junior at Maryland, under coach Gary Williams, he broke his leg and missed half the season. He attended Maryland partly because he was recruited there by Brian Williams, and partly because he admired former Terrapin standout Buck Williams.
Did he like Buck's muscular style of play? "No, it was more his porkchop sideburns," says Walt. "I tried to grow them, but mine looked more like spareribs."