Q&A with Jawad Williams

Jawad Williams has made it to the NBA. The Cleveland Cavaliers set their roster for the 2008-09 season on Thursday and the former Tar Heel made the final cut. Williams spoke with Inside Carolina on Thursday evening about realizing his NBA dream ...

Tell me how you first got the news that you made the Cavs. Where were you and what was going on?

"Actually I was at practice and I had no idea what was going on. I went to practice just like any other day and I was getting ready to go to work and after practice I had a couple of reporters come up to me and tell me congratulations and I asked ‘Congratulations on what?' They said ‘You made the 15-man roster. When did you find out?' I said ‘Just now - when you told me.' So that is how I got the news."

And what did you do then? Were you able to answer the question?

"I just told them it was a blessing, but I am going to continue to work hard. That is all I can do."

You've always been a pretty cool, calm and collected guy from what I've gathered – but this is a dream of yours. Are you still able to keep your cool making it to this point?

"Yeah. I'm always going to be the same person. Making it this far is only half the battle. I can't get complacent at all and I don't plan on getting complacent. I'm going to continue to work hard each and every day and continue to pray."

After all that you have been through, including your overseas travels and NBA tryouts, since the 2005 Championship - how does it feel to finally make your first NBA team in your hometown?

"It's a blessing, man, it's a blessing. I think I've been blessed with this job more so now because it's not just going to be me that is blessed, but it's my family, my community and my city."

Tell us about your family. Who have you talked to and what has their response been?

"I've been talking to everybody. My mother and my father. My sisters - they're so excited. One of my sisters, she going to have her baby in December and she told me she almost gave birth walking down the street when she heard the news. Everybody is so excited and I'm trying to be the calm one to get everybody to realize it's never over. My journey is never over."

Have you heard from anybody in the Carolina family?

"Not yet. I've had calls from that area code trying to contact me, but I've been getting so many phone calls that I'm sending people to voice mail."

What do you think Coach Williams will have to say?

"I think he'll commend me because not many people know how much hard work I've put in to make it this far and he's one of those people who've seen me work and one of the many people I'm looking forward to talking to along with my teammates because I know that they were pulling for me the whole time."

I spoke with Marvin [Williams] about a week ago and one of the things he told me is how much he checks your box scores all the time and wants to know how you're doing. He said that he was really pulling for you.

"It means a whole lot to me. Those guys are like my brothers. We've all sort of gone our separate ways since college, but those guys are like family and I do the same thing with them. I check the box scores to see how everyone is doing."

You and LeBron are buddies. Did he offer any congratulations yet?

"You know what? Nobody knew. Like I said, I didn't know and they didn't know. I haven't seen LeBron yet since practice, but when I see him I'm pretty sure he'll jump on my back and be the same silly person he's always been. I know he's been one of my biggest fans and biggest supporters since I've been here.

You've realized a dream, but like you said the real work starts now. How do you focus in and get that done?

It's not hard for me. Like I said, I always feel like I have an uphill battle. I'm never complacent and I'm just going to continue to go out and work even harder to prove that I do belong here.

There are a lot of Carolina guys like yourself out there trying to just battle and make the team. Any advice for a guy like Reyshawn Terry and the other Heels trying to make a team somewhere?

"For one, you've got to stay in your prayers and I know Reyshawn knows that. Another thing is you've got to be willing to do things that other people are not willing to do. My whole thing coming into the team was that I was going to be the first person into the gym and the last one to leave everyday and some of the guys still laugh at me to this day because I'm dead serious. When I come into the gym, I'm the first one here. I'm the first one sitting down to eat my breakfast. Everything I do I have to be first. You have to show everybody how bad you want it and they laugh at me now because when it comes to games I'm the same way. I want to be sure I'm standing out - I'm doing the extra things and that is what is going to get you over the hump."

Well, now no matter what, nothing can change the fact that you are an NBA player. How does that sound?

"It's a dream come true. That's all I can really say is that it is a dream come true and it is a great blessing. I am just going to continue to work hard and hopefully inspire other people who are going on the same path that I was on to continue to work hard."

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