To The Rafters

As we come down to the end of the season, and the last few games at home, it's time for an important question: should Jason Williams' jersey be retired?

As we come down to the end of the season, and the last few games at home, it's time for an important question: should Jason Williams' jersey be retired?

In a nutshell: yes.  The only argument against it is that he will stay for three years, instead of four, but he has accomplished an enormous amount in three, and really more than most could accomplish in twice the time.

Consider: when Williams showed up, the funk Duke experienced when Brand, Avery and Maggette left was still palpable, and the program was expected to fade.  If not for Mike Dunleavy's mono (remember when he was a one-man bench?), that team would have beaten Florida and possibly gone to the Final Four.  But no matter how you look at it, the program seemed vulnerable. Jason had a lot to do with making it what it is today.

Secondly, of course, a remarkable national championship and that he will likely be player of the year should factor in.

And third, and just as importantly, is who Jason is, because that has added a lot to Duke's basketball team and the University as a whole.  We don't know quite how to put this, because it is incongruous, but Jason Williams is a bit of a nerd.  When you see his game and the flash and daring, it doesn't make sense, but he is a nerd in that he is the most earnest kid we can remember at Duke since, well, maybe since Freddy Lind, who to this day is unaffected and down to earth.  Jason Williams is a millionaire waiting to happen, and he gets his butt kissed way more than anyone should, but it rolls off his back.

One of the things we should be grateful for as Duke fans is that so many of the parents have done great jobs with their kids.  You think obviously about Grant Hill's parents, but also Jeff Capel coming to so many games in a Duke hat (and now to UNC games in a UNC hat), Bobby Hurley's dad,  the Langdon's, the Battier's, C-well's mom, and of course Jason's parents.  They've done a tremendous job with him, and retiring his jersey would honor them as much as their son.

Jason has followed in Shane's footsteps in some ways, and along with Shane, Nate and C-well, really kept tradition going when it seemed to take a massive hit.  On top of all that, he has been an excellent student and will finish his junior year about two courses shy of graduation.  It's a feat which stumps the likes of Gary Williams, no doubt because so few of his players manage the feat at all, but the kid's doing it, and he's doing it in style.

It's hard to imagine anyone being a better representative and success story than Williams has been.  Just last year it seemed like Shane Battier's shadow was too long to escape, but that hasn't been the case. Jason has run his own race, as the Duke motto goes, and he's run it brilliantly. Our opinion is pretty meaningless in the broad scheme of things, but for what it's worth, yes, we hope #22 goes up next to Battier's #31.  He's been truly, truly great.


Blue Devil Digest Top Stories