Corliss Williamson: It's Awesome

Corliss Williamson thought it was awesome Wednesday night as his uniform was hoisted to the rafters. He said, "To God be the glory."

Corliss Williamson didn't talk long at halftime when his uniform was unveiled in the rafters of Bud Walton Arena on Wednesday night. Choking back tears when first handed the microphone, Williamson eventually got to his point, "To God be the glory."

Williamson, nicknamed the Big Nasty and the MVP of the 1994 Final Four, was his usual soft spoken self, surrounded by teammates, his coach and family.

"When you look at my jersey, I want you to think about my teammates and my coaches," he said. "They made this possible. They brought all these banners here and a national championship in 1994. To God be the glory."

And, that was that for Williamson. The video tribute was longer than his speech. It shouldn't surprise. He's always played big, but talked softly. Williamson pointed to the crowd to thank them and talked briefly about how good it was to be back in Bud Walton. But most of his talking was before the game when he met with the Arkansas media.

Williamson couldn't hide his feelings when introduced in the media room before his jersey was hoisted to the rafters in Bud Walton Arena on Wednesday night.

"It's awesome," Williamson said during a 15-minute interview period before the game with Missouri. "To be a kid growing up in Arkansas, to have this opportunity, it's an awesome feeling."

Williamson was humbled to be second behind Sidney Moncrief, one of his heroes and another native Arkansan. A banner in tribute of Williamson's coach, Nolan Richardson, will be added later this season.

"To follow the greatest player, Sidney Moncrief, and then to have coach Richardson to follow, it's just an awesome feeling."

Williamson knew what he would hear at halftime for the ceremony, the greatest fans in the world.

"These are the greatest fans in the world," said Williamson, now an assistant coach for the Sacramento Kings in the NBA. "I know everyone says they have the greatest fans, at other colleges and other NBA arenas. But I've been to all of them and we have them here, the greatest. I know."

Williamson thanked the fans -- and his teammates.

"I think about my teammates on a night like this," he said. "I couldn't do it without them. No way would my jersey be in the rafters. I thank my teammates, my coaches and the fans."

He had special thanks for Richardson.

"I didn't know why he was on me so hard as a player," he said. "But I understand now. He was making me better, as a player and a person. I do understand now."

There was a tip of the hat to Mike Anderson, the current UA coach and an assistant when Williamson played.

"It was Coach Richardson, I mean Coach Anderson, who would come behind Coach Richardson on the times when he was so hard on me at practice," Williamson said. "I knew he would get it turned around here because he turned it around at UAB and at Missouri when he took over those programs. I knew it was just a matter of time."

Williamson seemed to delight in talking about Bobby Portis, the sophomore forward who wins SEC player of the week honors week after week, just like Williamson. Portis played for Williamson in the second grade and worked under his hand for many seasons.

"My brother and his mom were both in barber's college in Little Rock," Williamson said. "I was coaching a second grade team and I asked him if he knew any tall kids. So that's how we got started.

"I do remember that Bobby was really emotional. He'd cry when I talked to him. He said it was just the way he was when he felt love. I've always looked at Bobby like a son."

Williamson said he had to be careful what he said about Portis because of NBA rules.

"I'm not sure what I can say," Williamson said. "I'm proud of him as a man."

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