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Former NBA player Hot Rod Williams dies at age 53

John Williams

Forward John Williams of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks to shoot the ball during a game against the Denver Nuggets.

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John ‘Hot Rod’ Williams – who spent most of his 13-year NBA career with the Cavaliers – lost his battle with cancer today.

Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

As Kurt wrote yesterday:

Hot Rod was a part of the best Cleveland teams, at least prior to the current edition, the ones that pushed Jordan’s Bulls in the East and featured Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, Craig Ehlo, and others. Williams averaged 11 points and 6.8 rebounds a game over his career, but he was best known as a shot-blocking defender coming off the bench for those Cavaliers teams. He averaged 1.6 blocks a game in his career.

Williams had a fascinating career, one that started in the minor leagues of the day while he went through a point-shaving trial from his days at Tulane. He was fully acquitted of those charges and went on to make a name for himself in the NBA. He also got a seven-year, $26.5 million contract in 1990, a deal that was front-loaded with $5 million in the first year, making him the highest paid NBA player. It was the outrageous contract of the day, and pundits flipped out. Williams just kept right on being a family man and doing his thing on the court.

I don’t remember Williams’ time with the Cavaliers. He was with the Suns by the time I really knew who he was, and his toughness stood out.

Most of all, I just loved that a grown man could get away with being called “Hot Rod” practically exclusively.