First, thanks to Bonnie Bernstein for tweeting these images and quotes out last night, as the event wasn’t broadcast anywhere that I could find.
Maryland kicked off it’s two-part celebration of dedicating the basketball court to Gary Williams last night. The event featured his ACC coaching brethren such as Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski, as well as former players Juan Dixon and Walt “Wizard” Williams.
All in all it sounded like a terrific event. I for one, can’t think of two players better (other than possibly adding Greivis Vasquez) to honor Williams’ coaching career. Walt Williams chose to stay at Maryland despite impending NCAA sanctions (thanks to Bob Wade, and piled onto the program’s already tough times of Lefty Driesell’s departure in the wake of the Len Bias tragedy). Basically, Gary Williams inherited a mess and Williams stayed to help rebuild the program. By his senior season, Walt Williams was a second-team All-American and averaged almost 27 points a game en route to beating Len Bias’ single season scoring record at Maryland.
Juan Dixon’s story is very different. Seriously, read it. He grew up the son of two heroin addicts, both of whom died of AIDS less than two years apart when he was a teenager. Dixon battled his way to two Final Fours, a national championship and the all-time career scoring record in College Park. He never looked like a dominant player, but he was always ready to hit the big shot — be it a dagger three or two free throws — to ice a close game. Dixon was one of the best players of the last decade. He’s also someone I will always associate with Gary Williams.
It sounded like a very special event. The second half of the ceremony will be tomorrow night before the 9 o’clock game against Duke. Let’s hope this one is televised.
(h/t Dan Steinberg)
See the images from Bernstein’s Twitter feed and a sneak peak of the court after the jump.