ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not often you can witness your dreams, aspirations and accomplishments unfold right in front of you. But that was the case for Jay Williams on Tuesday night, as his Rising Stars gala dinner and charity auction at the New York Athletic Club manifested his vision in living color.
I will forever associate the month of March with Jason Williams circa 2001, the mercurial Duke guard with a gunslingerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s swagger to go with his incredible talent, limitless potential and unparalleled work ethic.
And when he sits back and recalls his history with the best time of the year in college hoops, it puts him back in game mode.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“A couple weeks ago, I literally got chills,Ã¢â‚¬Â Williams said Saturday night. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I got chills. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s always like that. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s always this time of the year that makes me the most excited.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Nine years later, March is still Jay WilliamsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ time. Williams has transitioned into an excellent analyst for ESPNÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s college basketball telecasts; his superior court vision now allows him to break down the action better than most could, and he works just as hard at that as he did on his three-point shot.
And in what comes as no surprise to those of us who got to know him at Duke and who came to recognize him as a total class act, Williams is using his notoriety and networking ability to help give at-risk youth opportunities that they wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t normally have.
Despite that, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not exactly the same old Knicks anymore. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a newfound underlying feeling of hope about the team now. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re no longer permanently buried in salary cap hell. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re no longer under the iron fist of franchise murderer Isiah Thomas. This might all be different at this time next season.
My friends over at Trumbull Island are putting together a pretty extensive and highly entertaining collection of Top Ten lists for the decade, and for the year. As I helped them save Christmas this year, they asked me if I had any contributions, and then suggested Ã¢â‚¬Å“Top random people I met in the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ00Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s.Ã¢â‚¬Â In truth, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sort of like Forrest Gump: I run a lot, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m decent at ping-pong and I often find myself meeting a lot of random Ã¢â‚¬Å“famousÃ¢â‚¬Â people.
I think this is supposed to be a Top 10 list, but it looks like thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not a hard and fast rule for Trumbull, as someone had a Top 71 list. So, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m offering a Top 16 list. This is in no particular order. Most of them are athletes, but not all of them. Also, I have pictures with most of these people, but I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t like anyone to know what I look like, so you wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t see any here.