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.
While helping to lend some support to Jay WilliamsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Rising Stars charity event on Saturday night, Jennifer Sterger Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the host of the upcoming sports show The Daily Line on Versus Ã¢â‚¬â€œ often found herself the center of attention, something sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s grown accustomed to. But it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t entirely for the reason you probably think it was.
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not every year the No. 1 high school basketball team in the country plays in your home state, but thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s exactly what IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got right now with St. Patrick of Elizabeth, N.J. As such, I went to see them play Union at Kean University on Tuesday night, my first Celtics game in a couple of years but surely not my last this season.
As if seeing the highest-ranked team in America wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t enough incentive, I also wanted to check out point guard Kyrie Irving, whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s headed for Duke (my alma mater) next season. In addition, St. PatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s has forward Michael Gilchrist, arguably the best player in the country as a junior, whoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s rumored to be headed for Kentucky or Villanova. Gilchrist and Irving are the big names, but Western Kentucky commit Derrick GordonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s defense was tenacious and solid.
Unfortunately, I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get a very long look at Gilchrist. I got to Kean midway through the first quarter, and just a few minutes after I showed up, he collided with a Union player under the basket on a baseline drive and went down in a heap, clutching his knee. He couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t put weight on it and had to be helped out of the arena by teammates before halftime.
Another set of lists as part of our friends at Trumbull IslandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Year/Decade-ending Top 10 list hysteria. Here are the Top 10 coolest athletes of the decade, and the Top 10 least coolest athletes. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m sure IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m missing some, but I think itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a pretty good primer. I think youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll see Nas is generally a good barometer here. Feel free to let me know some other guys I missed.