Shawne Williams was declared to be on "thin ice" by Larry Bird last week. Today he took a step toward thickening up that ice to secure his footing within the organization as he participated in the first workout for the Pacers' rookie/free agent camp.
I believed last week and I believe now that Bird still has high hopes for Shawne's career and his comments were some tough love and nothing he hadn't already expressed to the young forward. Shawne's agent confirmed that and today, so did Shawne. He met with the media after today's practice and addressed Bird's comments.
"I can't get mad," Williams said. "He's got a job to do and I've got a job to do. I ain't losing respect for Larry. He's just doing his job. He's right."
"I feel like it's a make-or-break year," Williams said. "I've got to go out and do my job, just play, stay healthy and stay out of trouble and everything should fall in place."
Now that we know Shawne gets it, it's up to him to put in the work to take his game to another level on a consistent basis. We saw glimmers of that level of play last year and it was beautiful. Assistant coach, Lester Conner is running the summer league team and knows what he expects to see from Shawne.
"We need to see growth, him understanding what we're trying to do and we need him to raise his game to another level. Even though they don't have an MVP down there in Orlando, he needs to be flirting with that (level)."
The time is now for Shawne, a kid who, if he could put it all together, would become a beloved Pacer for many years because of his personality. I can't explain it but I've always had a soft spot for Shawne and his game. Probably goes back to his sense of humor and the fact that he's trigger happy from behind the arc. Whatever the reasons, they aren't enough to keep Shawne in the NBA. The excuse of youth is no longer valid especially for the summer league next week. Let's hope Shawne takes advantage of the opportunity starting today before the Florida sun melts that ice.