Lou Williams on His 76ers, Allen Iverson, Doug Collins, Lil Wayne, and the Playoffs
LBS had the pleasure of speaking with Philadelphia 76ers guard and Sixth Man of the Year candidate Lou Williams on Friday. Lou is hosting a bone marrow donor drive April 12th at Temple University in Philadelphia in support of DKMS, the world’s largest bone marrow center. Lou got involved with DKMS after his younger cousin was diagnosed with leukemia. Luckily his cousin found a donor, and now Williams is trying to raise awareness for leukemia and the importance of bone marrow donations.
We talked on Friday about Lou’s recovery from his hamstring injury, what it’s been like having Doug Collins as the team’s new coach, how Allen Iverson was as a teammate, Lou’s rapping interest, the infamous Lil Wayne game, and the upcoming playoffs. We also want to remind everyone they can go to www.getswabbed.org to register as a bone marrow donor. Our conversation follows.
LBS: I know you’ve been dealing with your hamstring injury, how have you been able to stay healthy throughout your career, good fortune, good preparation?
Lou: Has to be good fortune because my diet sucks and I always prepare well, but I would just say good fortune.
LBS: The team obviously lost the game when you got hurt [against the Bucks] and lost two more since then. Coach Doug Collins said afterwards that everyone can see how much the team misses you and how vital you are to the team. How does it make you feel to hear that from your coach?
Lou: It feels good for Coach Collins to have that much confidence in me and feel like I’m a vital part of this team. That’s the type of year and type of team we have with the Sixers. Everybody believes in each other and we’re a good team. We don’t have one superstar player, we need everybody on the same page, we need all our guys in order to win games. It was great to hear him say that and it was great to get that same love from the guy.
LBS: What’s it been like with him as head coach because we heard so many things going into the year about him being strict and tough, but it seems like everything has worked out. What’s it been like?
Lou: We don’t get that. We don’t get that. He just holds guys accountable. In order for you to get on the basketball court, he basically says ‘This is what I need you to do for this basketball team, and if you don’t do that then I have to go with somebody else.’ That’s not really strict, I think that’s just holding guys accountable and keeping guys on one accord.
LBS: I don’t know how much of a stat guy you are, but when it comes to efficiency in scoring, you’re ranked ahead of a lot of really good scorers in the league. Did you realize that?
Lou: No, I just hoop — I’m not into the stats and all that. I saw a poll that came out about Sixth Man of the Year stuff and it’s exciting to be mentioned in that, but I don’t really get caught up in that.
LBS: It’s good to keep a level head with all that, but it’s kind of cool that people are recognizing your talent. Do you feel like you’re starting to get a little bit of that?
Lou: Yeah, I think so. It’s been showing this year with the year the bench is having, with us having the number one bench in the league. That’s great attention when we can get it with us being young and upcoming, so any attention we can get we appreciate.
LBS: Boston and Miami are tied for record. Between the two of them, which one of them do you think you guys match up against the best?
Lou: In the playoffs you really don’t have a preference. Coach Collins had a line the other day, ‘don’t ask for or wish for anybody,’ because that might not be the matchup that you really want. Right now we’re just waiting and we feel like we can compete against both of those teams in a seven-game series so we’re just excited to see what our fate is going to be.
LBS: Which team out there do you think is the one to beat in the Eastern Conference?
Lou: Numbers-wise you have to say Chicago, so respectfully you have to give it to the number one team.
LBS: I know early in your career you spent a little of your time in the D-League, kind of tore it up and came back. Do you think it’s somewhat underutilized by teams?
Lou: I think it’s good for guys who have a bunch of talent but aren’t getting much playing time to go and get their confidence. I played three games in the D-League my second year, and it was able to get me kick-started for my career. I haven’t looked back since. I think it’s a great thing for young guys in the league who are trying to find their swag.
LBS: I know some people feel embarrassed, do you think there’s a little bit of that feeling?
Lou: Actually, I asked the team to allow me to go down and play. I was in my second year and wasn’t getting a lot of minutes behind A.I., so I was in a situation where I wanted to compete and play. They found a crease in the schedule where I could go down and play for three home games, so I don’t think it’s embarrassing at all.
Lou: It was the same thing, he was the life of the locker room. Very misunderstood guy. He’s the type of person who’s going to do things his way, and he really doesn’t care about the consequences behind that. I’ve always respected him for that. On the flip side, he always had great relationships with his teammates, was always an upbeat guy, always kept the locker room together.
LBS: Would you consider him a guy who was a team leader?
Lou: Absolutely, absolutely. Instead of him barking all the time, I think he led by example. The way he played, and every night he went out there — all the injuries he struggled with that’s no secret. He went out there and battled every night for his guys. He always used to say, ‘Anytime we’re in the fox hole, I’m the guy that you want to be in there with,’ which is true. He was always the guy that had your back no matter what, and had always competed his butt off.
LBS: Who fills that role for the team this year?
Lou: I think we do it for each other, I think everybody. This team, we’re just that — we need every single guy to come out there and compete and everybody to be on the same page in order for us to win, so I think we all rally around each other.
LBS: I saw your music video with Meek Mill [I Want it All], how did that come about?
Lou: Meek is a friend of mine — we’ve done tons of songs together just playing around in the studio doing different things. Music is something I’ve always been involved in. It’s just now getting to the point where I’m comfortable letting people hear it, because obviously you’re going to deal with some backlash when people see you outside of what they’re used to you doing. No matter how good the product is, it takes people some time to warm up to it. I didn’t care for one of my hobbies to be judged, so I always kept it to myself. The music is good and I feel like I’m comfortable with it.
LBS: I know you don’t want to be judged for it, has there been some bad backlash from it?
Lou: Some people had things to say, but overall it’s been more positive than negative. You can’t really ask for more than that. At the end of the day, it’s just a hobby that I did for fun and something that made me happy, and I didn’t really care for people to have an opinion about that. But once you put it out there, you kind of leave that door open. I know I’m not the greatest rapper, I know that I’m not the greatest basketball player. People hate Michael Jordan, people hate Jay-Z, so who am I not to have at least a couple people who dislike it?
LBS: Who is your favorite rapper?
Lou: Lil Wayne
LBS: I know a lot was made over the whole Lil Wayne concert [some 76ers attended the night before a game]. If you had to do it over again, would you do anything differently?
Lou: Absolutely not. It’s just a concert. People find anything to point the finger and blame for anything. Like I told Coach when the discussion came up, we’ve done a lot worse the night before a game instead of sitting in a suite enjoying a concert. I think that was all blown out of proportion. Every guy that was on our team that went to the concert played well except myself, so the theory that the concert lost the game for us is ridiculous.
LBS: Overall compared to other teams, do you think you’re pretty tame when you’re on the road compared to other teams?
Lou: Yeah, we’re a square team. Without a doubt, we’re a square, square basketball team. We don’t have partiers, we don’t have a bunch of guys that like to do a bunch of things. Everybody comes in, does their works, goes home, and that’s really it. I’m probably the only guy with tattoos on our team, probably the only one with a little edgy personality, and that’s it. Outside of that, I think we’re a pretty square basketball team.
LBS: I know you’ve been rehabbing a bunch lately, does it hurt you to be injured at this point in the year with the playoffs coming up?
Lou: Yeah it’s tough, because it’s the end of the year and this is when you really want to get your rhythm going into a playoff run. For me, I’m going to have to start over when the playoffs come, and that’s going to be a tough environment to try and come back off of an injury. Especially with the season that we’re having, to have to battle back, it’s tough to go down at the end of the season.
Once again, Lou will be hosting a bone marrow drive Tuesday April 12th at Temple University in support of DKMS. Don’t forget to go to www.getswabbed.org to register as a bone marrow donor.