How Michael Jordan helped Bulls teammate Scott Williams get first contract

How Michael Jordan helped Bulls teammate Scott Williams get first contract

You never know which moments will change your life forever. For former Bull Scott Williams, one came from an offensive rebound late in a charity pickup game in Greensboro, North Carolina in the summer of 1990. And a phone call made by Michael Jordan.

At the time, Williams was a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina, where he started three of his four seasons and averaged 14.5 points and 7.3 rebounds as a senior. But his place in the NBA was uncertain. Williams went unselected in the 1990 draft, and given nagging ailments in his shoulder, was soon pressed to find a home in the league.

Appearing on the Bulls Talk Podcast with Leila Rahimi and Will Perdue, Williams said he failed a physical at a tryout with the nearby Charlotte Hornets because of his “no-good shoulder.” Then, he got a call from the Bulls.

“I end up going to Chicago, and Jerry Krause is the first person to meet me when I get off the plane,” Williams said on the podcast. “He says, ‘I heard you just failed your physical in Charlotte, but we’ll give you a chance to make our rookie roster.’ So I went out to Summer League and played on the rookie roster.”

Williams, of course, eventually made the team and stuck with the Bulls for four seasons from 1990-1994, winning three titles along the way. His insatiable work ethic in practice was among the many things he was valued for as a reserve on those teams, according to Perdue.

But it all might not have happened without that call from Jordan. What inspired it was a crucial string of plays late in an exhibition game to benefit underprivileged kids in Greensboro, hosted by Fred Whitfield, a longtime friend to Jordan. Williams, by way of his Tar Heel roots, was invited to play, and ended up on the same squad as Jordan.

“I did pretty good, was holding my own most of the game, getting pushed around a little bit, pushing some other guys around,” Williams said on the podcast. “And I find myself getting an offensive rebound late in the game with us down one (point). And I said, I can go back up with this, or I could try to find the best player to ever play the game.

“Sure enough, I found him out on the baseline, about 19 feet out. I gave him one of the Dean Smith two-handed chest passes that he taught me, totally right out of the textbook, and Jordan ends up going up for one of his classic jumpshots and cans the jumper and we end up winning the game by one.”

Then, Williams didn’t think much of the interplay between the two. But upon being asked by Whitfield to participate in a documentary about the camp years later, Williams came to learn that that game may just have been the reason he got a call from Krause to try out for the Bulls in the first place.

“I think I impressed him (Jordan) just enough in that game, that he’s the one that calls Krause and tells him to give me a little bit of a look,” Williams said. “One of the things Fred (Whitfield) told me was that MJ made that call to Krause after that game when they were leaving the arena, and Fred was with him. So I thought that was pretty cool.”

But, as Williams was quick to note, this was no handout. Entering the 1990-91 season, yet without a title and fresh off three consecutive playoff defeats to the Bad Boy Pistons, Jordan wasn’t in a position in his career to be doing favors solely out of the kindness of his heart.

“I tell ya, I don’t think he (Jordan) makes that call if he doesn’t think I can help the club because, as Will will tell you, he was hell-bent on winning a championship,” Williams said. “Because he had never won one before, the Pistons had knocked them out of the playoffs the previous three years. I don’t think he was just doing it to help out a Carolina Tar Heel that was down on his luck.”

From then on, Williams and Perdue both confirmed, Jordan was especially hard on Williams during Bulls practices. As is to be expected. But the two shared a close friendship throughout, dotted by nights at the Jordan residence inhaling spaghetti dinners, shooting pool and watching basketball. Williams otherwise forged a 15-year NBA career that featured spells in Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Denver, Phoenix, Dallas and Cleveland. And it all might not have happened without that exhibition contest.

Also on the Podcast, Rahimi, Perdue and Williams break down Perdue and Williams’ still-vivid memories of Jordan’s first retirement, old Bulls practice stories (including a time Williams and Tex Winter nearly came to blows), and the similarities and differences between the Bulls’ rivalries with the Knicks and Pistons.

Listen to the Bulls Talk Podcast here or via the embedded player above.

Bulls Talk Podcast


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Report: Jamal Crawford signs with Brooklyn Nets ahead of NBA bubble

Report: Jamal Crawford signs with Brooklyn Nets ahead of NBA bubble

How much help does Caris LeVert need?

Jamal Crawford — automatic bucket, all-time cheat code and pantheon-level problem — has reportedly agreed to a contract with the Brooklyn Nets ahead of the NBA's restart in Orlando. The Athletic's Shams Charania had the scoop:

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Since the news of the season resumption broke, the Nets have had Deandre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie, Taurean Prince and Wilson Chandler opt out for various reasons. Those decisions, in addition to existing injuries to Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and Nic Claxton, will leave the East's current No. 7 severely understaffed in Orlando, but Crawford should add a layer of entertainment to their eight seeding games and possible postseason run.

Crawford, after all, famously scored 51 points in his last NBA while with the Phoenix Suns on April 10, 2019. With the performance, he became the oldest player in NBA history to score 50+ in a game (39 years, 20 days), just edging out Michael Jordan (38 years, 315 days). 

He also became the first NBA player to score 50 with four different teams. His first burger came as a member of the Bulls, with whom he spent the first four seasons of his career, on April 11, 2004. Across 19 NBA seasons, Crawford has scored 19,414 points and won three Sixth Man of the Year awards.

"It was disappointing, it was shocking," Crawford said of not being signed for the 2019-20 season when he joined the Bulls Talk Podcast back in April. "My character is solid, I won teammate of the year two years ago. Besides the 50-point game, I had my highest scoring month in April (2019). I averaged 31 points in the month of April off the bench. So I thought without a doubt I showed I could still play, my character is solid, I thought without a doubt (I would get signed)."

Crawford added that even though the pandemic impacted his pickup routine, he had been able to stay in shape via a fitness center he has in his home. He'll be ready for the opportunity.

"Absolutely," he said when asked if he still hoped to find a home in the league. "I'm training as if I'm playing, or I'm going to play. Part of that obviously is for me, because I'm never out of shape, so I love to play anyway. I'll be playing somewhere, whether it's here or LA Fitness, I'll be playing somewhere. But hopefully it's back in the league."

At that point, not even Crawford could have guessed his next organized basketball would come in a Disney World bubble. But here we are. Whatever he does, it will certainly be worth watching.

RELATED: Jamal Crawford recounts how Michael Jordan helped him meet Jay-Z


Tim Anderson mirrors Michael Jordan ‘Wings’ poster: ‘Make Me Like Mike’

Tim Anderson mirrors Michael Jordan ‘Wings’ poster: ‘Make Me Like Mike’

In the run-up to the 2020 MLB season, the South Siders have all of Chicago buzzing.

And at the forefront of the hype train: star shortstop Tim Anderson.

It makes sense. Never mind Anderson bumping his batting average from .240 to .335 (good enough for the AL batting title) between 2018 and 2019, and cementing himself as a franchise cornerstone. He’s also proven a staple in various communities around the city, and won hearts with the infectious swagger he plays the game with.

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Now, he’s evoking comparison to another Chicago sports icon. Tuesday night, Anderson tweeted a pretty sleek design of him mirroring the famous Michael Jordan ‘Wings’ poster. The caption: ‘Make Me Like Mike.’


For comparison:

Courtesy of Amazon

Gary Nolton, the photographer who took the Jordan picture, said in an interview with Highsnobiety that he believed the original photo was taken some time in the summer of 1989, which would have marked the offseason before the Bulls’ final defeat at the hands of the Bad Boy Pistons. The next year, 1991, marked the beginning of the first three-peat. In some ways, that picture symbolizes the precipice of Jordan’s transformation from phenom to legend.

And while no one is expecting a run of the same dynastic proportions as the 1990s Bulls from this iteration of the White Sox, seeing Anderson embrace the city’s sports tradition, and his own potential, is a fun sight for fans of any distinction.

Could the Sox make a run at contention this year? Could Anderson take another leap towards established superstardom? Or will this season mark the South Siders' final tribulation before breaking out of their rebuild, à la the Bulls of yesteryear? 

In an abbreviated campaign flush with unknowable variables, anything certainly seems possible.

RELATED: Tim Anderson leads growing White Sox toward contention: 'He's a man'