After 15 years in the NBA, former UNC star and national champion Marvin Williams announced his retirement from professional basketball, according to the Undefeated:
Bucks forward Marvin Williams told @TheUndefeated he is retiring from playing in the NBA after 15 seasons. “I’ve been very blessed. God has been very, very good to me,” Williams said.— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) September 9, 2020
Williams was, of course, the 6th man and a key part of the 2005 National Championship-winning Tar Heel squad, and would be immortalized in Tar Heel History even if he hadn’t been a national champion just thanks to his game-winning putback against Duke in that fateful season-ending rivalry game. Here, let’s take one more look at it:
Williams was drafted #2 that year by the Atlanta Hawks, and initially took some heat for being drafted over the likes of Chris Paul and Deron Williams, both of whom became among the best players at their positions over their careers. But despite having been drafted among those two and Andrew Bogut and not quite playing up to the standards they had set, Williams managed to become a pretty good player, averaging 11.5 points and 5.3 rebounds in about 30 minutes per game over 7 seasons in Atlanta. After coming into the league largely without a three-point shot, which hampered him as a hybrid forward before small-ball was really in vogue in the NBA, he developed one by his fourth season and continued working on it throughout his career. Meanwhile, he was consistently an outstanding community member, winning the Hawks’ Jason Collier Memorial Trophy twice for his work in the community.
He was traded to the Utah Jazz in 2012 and it looked like he might be on his way out of the league, never really finding a role in their lineup and failing to ever break his 21-point debut for the team. After two years, looking for a fresh start, he came back to North Carolina, signing with the Charlotte Hornets. Joining a team that was relatively low on talent, combined with the stretch-4 era really taking off around the mid-2010’s, was an absolute boon for Williams, who after a year of adjustment had a total career rejuvenation in Charlotte. In the 2015-2016 season, he was just one of 5 players to hit 150 three-pointers and corral 500 rebounds, exemplifying his rebounding acumen and strength for a small player at the 4 spot. He became a very consistent shooter, hitting about 38% of his attempts from outside in Charlotte, and though the team was consistently mediocre, he was a stalwart player. His leadership and mentorship were consistently praised by the team’s players and coaches. In his last season, while the Hornets were fully rebuilding, he was bought out for a chance to chase a ring after 14 seasons of never advancing past the 2nd round of the playoffs, and signed with the title-favored Milwaukee Bucks. He played his role well in Milwaukee, though his shooting numbers went down, but the team deflated in the 2nd round of the bubble playoffs and lost to the Miami Heat in 5 games. Williams’ last game was a solid one, with 11 points and 8 rebounds in 20 minutes as one of a group of players pressed into replacing Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Williams is also notable for having made it a point to finish his Carolina degree despite having been a one-and-done player, taking summer classes and online courses however he could fit them into the life of a professional basketball player until he was finally able to graduate, 9 years later, in 2014. He’s talked about various possibilities post-retirement, most of them having to do with expanding the world of basketball: working with Basketball Without Borders, taking on a role in the NBA’s International Outreach Office, and stuff like that. It’s clear that he sees himself as a global citizen with a responsibility to extend opportunities to those less fortunate by circumstance of birth, and that’s commendable. Whatever he does, he’ll be an asset to his teammates, as he was on the court. We wish Marvin the best in his retirement and congratulate him on a long, fruitful career.