Unlike most NBA stars who are conditioned to these luxurious lives, Laker Shawne Williams revels in appreciation for that lifestyle now. After a January 5 meeting with head coach Mike D’Antoni, Williams received news that he was being waived from the team. In his exit meeting, he was offered an opportunity to play with the Lakers D-League affiliate team D-Fenders, but declined on the spot.
Emotional devastation was the only way to describe his state of mind following the news he was no longer a Laker. He didn’t sleep on his long flight back to Los Angeles and used his now completely open schedule to do nothing but sulk on his couch and eat. Extremely depressed, he had no motivation to even move.
After three days of little movement and even littler hope, Williams realized that a change must be made to save himself from this inevitable downward spiral. According to
NBC Los Angeles’ Shahan Ahmed, Williams had an epiphany:
“I just snapped out of it,” Williams recalled. “I knew I couldn’t get down about this. It’s about how I recover from this, not how it’s going right now.”
Williams decided he would give the D-League a chance, and this would turn out to be the reality check of a lifetime. Attending practice, he would have to sit and wait for the Lakers squad to be finished before he could practice. The crowds for D-Fenders games were minuscule in comparison to crowds at Staples Center. The five-star hotels would now become motels, and Southwest Airlines would become the new means of transportation. Williams would find himself paying out of pocket for priority boarding in hopes of snagging a seat that would fit his lengthy legs. When he boarded these planes, he received questions from fellow passengers asking who he played for. Having to respond he played for the D-Fenders and not the Lakers was harder than he imagined it would be.
Williams finished practice with the D-Fenders one day and watch the Lakers have to put a fouled out player on the court because they had no healthy players to put in the game. After just four games with the D-League, Williams was offered a 10-day contract with the Lakers.
Williams was flown out to Philadelphia within twenty minutes of accepting this contract, and catch the private jet with the team back to Los Angeles. Since becoming a Laker again, he would play in every game and even find his way onto the starting lineup.
When asked about how his D-League experience has affected him, Williams had a few words:
“It humbled me. This made me more appreciative.”
Williams learned that life is drastically less glamorous as a D-League player. It was not until all of these luxuries were taken away from him before he could truly value how wonderful life as a Laker was.
His contract is set to expire on February 15 and could potentially be offered another 10-day contract, but with the trade deadline coming up on February 20, this poses some complications. While the Lakers can offer him another 10-day contract, they would have to re-sign him for the rest of the season once these 20 days are up.
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