Former University of Maryland coach Gary Williams will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, Aug. 8, 2014. Williams joined Bob and Glenn on Sports Rehab to discuss some of the more memorable and meaningful moments of his hall-of-fame career.
“For me, personally, I never thought it would happen. If they think [I’m] good enough to get in there, it’s a huge honor for me,” said Williams.
Gary Williams, who coached The University of Maryland’s basketball team for 22 years, drew some criticism in the latter part of his tenure for doing some things in an unorthodox manner, but he doesn’t give that criticism attention compared to the praise from people within the basketball community.
“There’s the public perception, but then there’s the basketball side of things. You’re going to get criticized as a major university’s coach,” said Williams.
“I think people who are part of the game and who have been in the game have a different appreciation for what you do as a coach. There are no easy games,” Williams added.
The Maryland legend has known he’s been inducted for quite some time, so he’s been crafting his induction speech in the mean time, noting several key contributors within his career.
“I’ve been working on the speech for about a month, and I’ve talked to people involved. I think you have to do that because there is so much involved,” said Williams.
“All of your coaches and players who you’ve worked with over the years—some will be there, and it’s just as much about them.”
Although Williams has been out of the game for several years, he still knows basketball culture as well as anyone within the game, and believes World Basketball will not suffer as a whole after Paul George’s horrific injury in Vegas.
“I think players, even at that level, know there’s a risk involved. That’s as organized and well officiated and well run as a player can do in the offseason,” said Williams. “It’s terrible what happened to Paul, it’s a shame for Indiana as well, but hopefully he’ll come back 100 percent and back to doing what he does.”
Moreover, Williams described international basketball’s benefits from the U.S. being such a strong participant over the years.
“It helped international basketball, because what it did was show other countries they had a lot of work to do in order to reach our level.”
Perhaps the highlight of Gary Williams’ career at Maryland was his championship run in the early 2000’s.
“The Hall-of-fame is really similar to coaching the 2001-2002 to National Championships. You can be the best coach in the world and if you don’t have good players, you’re not going to win.”
“I’ve been very fortunate to be around very good people. I think it shows most when it gets tough. Maryland gave me my education and a chance to play college basketball, so bringing it back to where we had a chance to play for a championship was special,” Williams said.