Jason Williams grateful for Filipino fans’ support 12 years since his NBA retirement
MANILA, Philippines — Former NBA star Jason Williams relished his return to the Philippines after 11 years as the guest in the NBA 3X Philippines this weekend at SM Mall of Asia.
Williams, the seventh overall of the Sacramento Kings in the 1998 rookie draft, felt “fantastic” in coming back to Manila for the first time since he played alongside Scottie Pippen and other NBA veterans in an exhibition game with ex-PBA players back in 2012.
The 47-year-old point guard, dubbed “White Chocolate”, was glad to see a lot of his fans from the Philippines even more than a decade after retiring.
“The people here in the Philippines always treat me great. It still amazes me that there are these many Jason Williams fans here this far away,” said Williams during his media availability and meet and greet on Friday at NBA Store Megamall.
The former NBA All-Rookie First Team member urges the young Filipino players seeing action in the return of the NBA 3X Philippines to have fun when they compete over the weekend which features an under-19 and open division for boys and girls and open category.
“I’m just looking to see some basketball. I like to watch basketball and see all these Filipino kids play some basketball. I can’t wait,” he said. “I’m excited to see what kind of basketball the Filipinos have to offer. I think it’s going to be fun.”
“I would like just to tell them to go out and have fun you know and just do whatever makes them happy on the basketball court. If they go out and practice behind-the-back passes that’s what they should do in the game,” he added.
Williams, who holds career averages of 10.5 points, 5.9 assists, and 1.2 steals, played for the Kings from 1998 to 2001 before heading to the Memphis Grizzlies from 2001 to 2005.
The 6-foot-1 point guard, known for his behind-the-back pass and nifty skills, won an NBA title with the Miami Heat in 2006 with Shaquille O’Neal and Dwayne Wade.
Williams also played for the Orlando Magic from 2009 to 2011 before returning to Memphis where he decided to call it quits.
Twelve years since retiring, Williams is still grateful for the NBA, which gave him a chance to visit other countries and enjoy different basketball cultures.
“I’m so appreciative that the NBA allows me to do trips like this and come hang out with you guys and watch some basketball. That makes it even better,” he said. “Every time I get invited, I will be here. I promise.”