Slamadamonth, SLAM #37: Latrell Sprewell

Originally published in SLAM 37

Throughout the Knicks’ ’99 season, there was one guy always on the bench, always in uniform, who was never going to play. He stood for the huddles, motivated the other players and was willing to do the little things, the things that no one acknowledges or even sees. No, not David Wingate. We’re talking about Jabrille Williams, the 7-year-old son of reserve center Herb.

Jabrille was an integral part of the Knicks team—running towels back and forth from the locker room to the bench, participating in pre-game warmups, even squirming through forests of cameramen to hound players for autographs after the biggest of games. After one such request, Allan Houston exploded in mock exasperation: “What are you going to do, open a store?”

Over the course of the season Jabrille, in his “33” replica Knicks jersey with “Jabrille Williams” screened across the back, became just another expected night at the Garden, along with the motley collection of unshaven columnists, Jeff Van Gundy’s sleep deprived face and Larry Johnson’s empty locker. But when the ’99-00 season starts, Jabrille may not be there.

But not for the reason you may think. Yes, the 41-year-old Williams might hang up the hightops soon, but he and his children will always have a place in the Knicks organization. And the Knicks, as far we know, have not banned players’ children from the bench. All the same, Herb may want to consider hiring a sitter on game nights. You see, when Latrell Sprewell raged to the rim in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, voiding all of Jaren Jackson’s prior contributions with one NC-17 two handed knockout punch, he changed the rules.

There are some things that children just shouldn’t see.

Russ Bengtson