Austin Carr never played with John "Hot Rod" Williams. Carr had retired by the time Williams entered the NBA in 1986. But the Cavs' great, and current TV analyst, knew "Hot Rod" well enough to know, and feel, the type of impact that Williams left on those he did play with.
"First of all, a great person," Carr told me by phone from Orlando on Friday. "He was definitely a solid-earth type person who'd give you the shirt off his back. And he was a great basketball player. That team (in the late 80's-mid 90's) really had all they needed to win a championship. They just happened to run into Michael Jordan."
Williams, who passed away at the age of 53 after a battle with prostate cancer, played 13 seasons in the NBA, but is best remembered for his days as the 6th man on a Cavs team that had Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, Larry Nance, and Craig Ehlo, and challenged the Chicago Bulls for supremacy in the East. Those Cavaliers are still adored, 20 years later.
"That's because of the type of people they were," Carr said. "And I think we (in the 70's) had the same type of individuals within the locker room, also. People that you can feel and touch and talk to, and they wouldn't treat you as though you were below them, and I just feel that, that whole team was that way."
Those Cavaliers never won a title, but they certainly left a legacy with the fans. And Williams will be remembered fondly.
"He was a great person, great family man", Carr said. "He was just an all-around good guy, the type of guy you would want to go to battle with in the locker room.