Reggie Williams returns to NBA roots at Oracle Arena
While the roar of Oracle Arena was fresh and exciting for many in attendance on the record setting evening, for one person it was all too familiar.
Former Golden State Warriors guard Reggie Williams found himself once more at the first NBA arena he called home in his career. Grinding away in the D-League, he earned a call-up in early 2010 from the Sioux Falls Skyforce and found his way to Oakland. Yet, here he was, standing among 17,000-plus fans in attendance to watch the spectacle of a D-League game played in an NBA arena. For Williams, it was par for the course.
Williams scored 22 points on Sunday to lead all scorers as the Oklahoma City Blue defeated the Santa Cruz Warriors 105-96 in front of a D-League record crowd.
After the final buzzer sounded and his team claimed the victory, Williams reflected on his career coming full circle in what would be an unlikely return to Oakland.
“Just full of memories man, really no bad memories all good. (The Warriors) gave me my NBA start and I’m forever grateful for that,” Williams said, who was recently named to the D-League All-Star Game in New Orleans on Saturday. “Just coming in here, pulling up to the arena and how I use to drive down the freeway 880 to get here, the music I listened to, it’s unbelievable. I’m glad I have those memories. ”
Though it has been more than five years since he suited up for Golden State, he was pleasantly surprised to receive cheers from the home crowd during player introductions.
From my first time being here and being embraced by the city, and by the fans,” Williams said. “They always show me a lot of love and I just never forget that.
But what about being booed while at the free throw line?
I understood that,” Williams said with a huge grin on his face. “Not everybody knows me or remembers me and I play for the opposing team, but it was all fun.”
Williams earned a call-up this season with the New Orleans Pelicans on Dec. 10, but was waived three weeks later before deals became guaranteed. Along with Golden State and New Orleans Williams has had stops with the Charlotte Bobcats, Oklahoma City Thunder, and San Antonio Spurs during his professional career. For him though, the journey back to the league remains his main focus.
“I still want to play in the NBA, I’m still chasing that dream,” Williams said. “I’m blessed to be able to still play basketball.
The Virginia Military Institute alum is currently averaging just over 18 points per game while shooting 46% from the field, including 39% from three-point range. Despite looking for his own opportunity on his quest to make it back to the NBA, Williams knows the importance of being a mentor to younger players like Dakari Johnson and Daniel Hamilton, the likely future of the Thunder. Conversely, they also play a part in Williams’ daily approach.
“Those guys help me as well. They look up to me, they look up to our other vets as well and a couple other guys that have NBA experience and I think it helps us,” Williams said. “It helps us bring out our leadership skills and our leadership ability. I think we all just benefit from each other, young and older.”
Does his approach change now that he’s already earned a call-up to the NBA this season?
“Not really, my main focus is winning and I’m here,” Williams said. “Obviously, everybody’s goal while in the NBA Development League is to get better and get a shot in the NBA but you have to be in the moment and my moment right now is with the Oklahoma City Blue. What I can do here is help us win. Our goal is to go to the playoffs and ultimately come out on top.”
The Blue are 26-11 heading into the D-League All-Star break, good enough for second overall in the Western Conference. Yet the team hasn’t received as much publicity as other teams in the D-League. But for Williams, the results on the court speak for themselves.
“Maybe because we don’t put up the numbers that those other teams put up, nothing wrong with the way they play,” Williams said. “I think our M. O. is on the defensive side. So you’re putting up 120, 140 points versus you play us and the score is 105-98.
With only 13 games left in the D-League season for the Blue, Williams and company look to finish the season on a high note as they make a run for the postseason.