Former NBA guard Williams finds career, homelike feeling in Chinese Basketball Association


marcus-williamsFormer NBA guard Marcus Williams has gotten himself rooted in the soil of China’s top-flight basketball league as he finds his career and home at Shanxi Zhongyu.

The 26-year-old American, considered one of the best outsider players in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) league, averages 30.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists for Shanxi this season, and is now the second-placed scorer of the league.

Williams, however, sang high praise for his Chinese teammates in Shanxi Zhongyu, saying in an exclusive interview with Xinhua that CBA is a stage not only for foreign players.

“The native players are growing quickly, as there are more talents in the league now. They are the key in winning,” said Williams, who had formerly played for NBA’s San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers before joining the CBA in 2009.

After a moderate season with Zhejiang Golden Bulls in 2010, he signed with Shanxi and helped the Zhongyu team finish the 2011 season in the third place among overall 17 teams.

The 1.98-meter Williams, however, warned his teammates that the rivalship in this year’s CBA league will be even bitter that they could not just lay on the past success.

“Last season, there were two or three teams competing for the championship, but now I think the number is five or six. If you don’t have energy, you will lose,” he said.

Asked who’s the best foreign player in CBA, Williams spoke of his teammate Charles Gaines without hesitation.

“I have known Charles even before I came here. He has energy, he can score in the paint, he is a rebound monster and he is getting better,” he said.

Gaines, so called “Paint Beast”, averaged 29.2 points and 14.3 rebounds. The foreign duo scored almost two thirds of the whole team.

But in Williams’ mind, his local teammates, like Lu Xiaoming, the local assists king, were also the integral parts of Shanxi’s impressive season.

On December 14, the home game of Shanxi against Beijing was again this season’s highlight as a three-point buzzer beater from Shanxi guard Yang Jingmin in the last 1.8 seconds helped the team get overtime and receive its sixth success in this season.

“I’m really proud of the team. We played until the last whistle. That 1 was for you Naoto Nation!!!!” Williams posted on his twitter-like sina weibo, which has attracted nearly 10,000 fans with his 500 posts composed of his daily life in Taiyuan.

In Shanxi dialect, “Naoto” means fighting.

Last May, Williams renewed his contract with Shanxi club, and said that he chose to stay with the Zhongyu team since they are family.

“I came back because we have the best home court and best fans, we have stability in roster and our young players are growing better,” he said.

Having been in China for four years, Williams said he has been gradually gaining affection with Chinese culture and his teammates.

“The food is good. I might not be home with family, but I feel right at home.”

On 20th this month, Williams had an early Christmas with his girlfriend and son, with a nice dinner, Christmas gift and house gingerbread, before they left for another CBA game.

“I will miss them, but I will chat with my boy on line,” he said.

Williams was drafted by the New Jersey Nets in the 1st round (22nd pick) of the 2006 NBA Draft.

He played in 203 NBA games (10 started), averaging 5.6 points, 2.8 assists,15.2 minutes of playing time per game. Williams’ best season was his rooking season, when he averaged 6.8 ppg and 3.3 apg for the Nets.

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