Good Gary, Bad Gary
Posted May 5, 2011
Updated May 6, 2011
The sudden retirement of Gary Williams leaves a divot in the ACC and college basketball. Only Mike Krzyzewski and Dean Smith won more ACC games than Williams did.
He inherited a once proud program at Maryland that was in shambles after a bad hire of high school coach Bob Wade. The Terps were also still trying to recover from the cocaine death of star Len Bias after he was drafted by the Boston Celtics.
Gary Williams went to work repairing his alma mater bringing a national championship to College Park in 2002 and winning 3 ACC titles.
The guy can flat coach basketball but some of his on-court antics went too far. A friend of mine told me of an ACC tournament about 10 years ago when he was sitting behind the Maryland bench with his son. The Terps were getting whipped and Gary Williams was spraying profanities after every other play.
Embarrassed for his son, my friend had heard enough. After one of Williams' "F-bomb" tirades my friend stood up and shouted, "Hey Gary, watch the language. I have a young son sitting here." To which Gary replied, "F your son!!" The ACC heard about that one and so did Gary Williams.
But I also remember how engaging Williams was on those practice days at the ACC tournament. He would stand in the hallway surrounded by media telling great stories. Laughing and joking, Williams had so many stories to share.
I hope he finally gets into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. In early April, his former boss, NC State AD Debbie Yow, told me she nominated Williams for the Hall and suggested that the floor at the Comcast Center bear his name.
Gary Williams rubbed some the wrong way but he always wanted what was best for his sport.
His departure is not one of those good things for college basketball.