Being an NBA player is a high-profile occupation. For one, players typically look like giants among men, so there’s a physical delineation that makes it easy to differentiate them from the general public. The proliferation of services like NBA League Pass, League Pass Broadband and good old fashioned internet piracy have made it relatively easy to watch any team regardless of your location, raising the profile of NBA players the world over. And the rise of social media has made it possible for players and teams to converse directly with a fans all over the globe, which has helped to increase the NBA’s status as one of the most popular leagues in the world.
But even though the NBA is bigger than it has ever been, there’s still opportunity, especially with the anonymity the internet affords, for identities to be mistaken. Such was the case when Hollywood writer/director/producer JJ Abrams, most well known for directing the two most recent “Star Trek” films and the upcoming “Star Wars VII” movie, tried to contact children’s book author Mo Willems, but was mistakenly put in touch with Portland Trail Blazer Mo Williams.
“Like most bipedal parents, we all discovered Harry Potter together, reading the books aloud to our kids,” said Abrams in an interview with The New York Times. “But one of my favorite children’s authors was introduced to us by our youngest son. When he was in kindergarten he brought home some books by Mo Willems, who has one of the most remarkable comedic voices I’ve ever read. His sense of humanity — of heart and generosity — is staggering. I was so blown away, I got his number from his agent and called him. I was essentially a sycophant, expressing what a deep fan of his I am, how I would love to work together one day. He was quiet on the phone, almost monosyllabic, disinterested. Frankly it was a bit of an odd reaction. It wasn’t until the next day that I discovered that I had, in error, called Mo Williams of the Portland Trail Blazers.”
An understandable mistake, seeing as how “Williams” is a rather common last name and is pronounced the same way as “Willems”. But that wasn’t where the confusion ended. According to Mo Williams the Portland Trail Blazer, he didn’t even know who he was conversing with until the article was brought to his attention by a yours truly after a recent practice.
“I didn’t know he did the “Star Trek” movies!” said Williams of Abrams. “He need to put me in a movie! Shoot, I can act. I do it all the time.”
According to Williams, he and Abrams even conversed via email before speaking on the phone, which added another level of hilarity to the interaction between Portland’s backup point guard and one of the most prolific names in Hollywood.
“I got a lot of friends and I played in L.A., so I got a lot of Hollywood friends, so I thought it was someone I had met or someone I came across,” said Williams. “I was corresponding with him then I realized he might have have me kind of messed up with somebody else. We’re going back and forth on email, that’s the new age of communication. We were actually talking and he was giving me a lot of compliments. I felt like he was talking about me, you know, how great of a person I was. I was like ‘Yeah, that’s me! That’s me.’ I told him thank you. Then he said something that caught me like ‘Well, I don’t really remember that.'”
The “something that caught” Williams was Abrams referencing Willems’ work, which includes titles such as “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale”, “Don’t Let The Pigeon Stay Out Late” and “The Duckling Gets A Cookie?!”. But as it turns out, Williams was considering going into Willems’ business, which only added coincidence to confusion.
“The crazy thing about it, I’ve been talking to friends about writing children’s books because I have a lot of kids,” said Williams. “But I still thought, ‘I think he’s got me mixed up with another guy.’ It was funny once I realized it.”
With everyone’s identity now sorted out, Williams says he would like another opportunity to talk to Abrams. And since he’s now got his personal email address, it shouldn’t be too hard to pull off.
“I think I’m going to reach out to him. JJ Abrams, let’s get together man. Let’s communicate, have a lunch, have a dinner, whatever. Maybe I could become a movie star.”
(And since we’re talking about Mo Williams and Hollywood, here’s Williams in a Barack Obama costume with Alfonso Ribeiro of “Fresh Prince Of Bel Air” fame and former Major League Baseball player David Justice)
(And a hattip to ESPN’s Kevin Pelton on the Abrams interview)
I kind of figured there would be additional fallout from the altercation that took place late in the third quarter of Saturday night’s victory against the Warriors at Oracle Arena, but with no word from the league on Sunday, I thought maybe they’d just let the incident be.
Not so. Just seven hours before the tipoff of tonight’s game against the Knicks at the Moda Center, the NBA has announced that Mo Williams will be suspended for one game for his part in the shoving match, while both LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews pick up substantial fines as well. From the release …
NEW YORK, Nov. 25, 2013 – Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut and Portland Trail Blazers guard Mo Williams have each been suspended one game without pay for fighting after Bogut initiated an incident by elbowing Trail Blazers center Joel Freeland in the jaw. In addition, for escalating the incident, Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge has been fined $45,000, and Portland guard Wesley Matthews and Golden State forward Draymond Green have been fined $20,000 each. The incident occurred with 3:42 remaining in the third quarter of the Trail Blazers’ 113-101 win over the Warriors on Saturday, Nov. 23 at Oracle Arena.
The penalties were announced today by Rod Thorn, President, Basketball Operations.
Williams will serve his suspension tonight when the Trail Blazers host the New York Knicks. Bogut will serve his suspension on Tuesday, Nov. 26, when the Warriors visit the New Orleans Pelicans.
To view the play, click on the following link: http://www.nba.com/video/channels/originals/2013/11/25/por-gsw-incident.nba/index.html
Bogut getting suspended seems like a no-brainer, so I guess if you’re going to suspend a guy for throwing an elbow, you have to suspend the guy for pushing him as well. Forty-five grand seems like an unusually large fine for what Aldridge did, but it’s substantially less than what he would lose if he were to be suspended one game, which some quick math says would be almost $172,000. Given that and the impact his absence would have on the Trail Blazers, I think you feel okay about the $45k hit. Then again, it ain’t my money.
(By the way, kudos to the NBA for including video in these kinds of releases. A lot of league would try to gloss over this kind of stuff, but if the video is out there, it’s out there. Might as well throw the link in and get the pageviews.)
It’s was a case of “two steps forward, one step back” in regards to injuries at the team’s practice on Saturday, as LaMarcus Aldridge (left quad), Mo Williams (left ankle) and Dorell Wright (right middle finger) all returned to the court without restrictions while CJ McCollum had to leave practice with a left foot sprain.
McCollum sprained his left foot, the same foot he broke his senior season at Lehigh, after crashing to the floor while trying to set a screen on Wesley Matthews. McCollum was not in the gym when media was allowed in toward the end of practice and he was not made available for interviews once practice concluded. The severity of the injury, as well as his status for Sunday night’s Wells Fargo Fan Fest, is unknown.
But in good injury news, Aldridge participated in five-on-five fullcourt live action after being limited to four-on-four halfcourt drills on Friday after straining his left quad during practice on Wednesday. The same goes for Williams and Wright, who both missed significant portions of Friday’s practice due to their respective injuries.
Neither Earl Watson (left calf contusion) nor Will Barton (concussion) participated in Saturday’s practice, though both watched from the sideline.
“It’s disappointing CJ got hurt because he’s a rookie and could use the reps, but we’ve got a lot of bodies,” said head coach Terry Stotts after practice. “We’re still able to put in the things we want to put in and when the injured guys are on the sidelines they’re still paying attention.”
Stotts said the decision regarding who will be available to participate in the Wells Fargo Fan Fest on Sunday will be made the morning of the event.
“I don’t know if Earl will play. I have no idea with CJ right now,” said Stotts. “Mo did more today than we expected so we’ll see what his status is tomorrow. We’ll decide that tomorrow. If we have a choice we might want to just make sure he’s ready for Monday night”