Some sad news came out of the NBA world Friday morning, as John “Hot Rod” Williams has passed away at age 53. Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer passed along news that Williams was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which had spread, earlier this week. Williams’ agent, Mark Bartelstein, confirmed his death to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
Williams spent nine of his 13 NBA seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, mostly in a bench role in a front court that had Brad Daugherty and Larry Nance. His best season came in 1989-90, as Williams averaged 16.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. He was a key part of annual playoff teams in Cleveland, but the Cavaliers could never get past the Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls.
For his career, which included time with the Phoenix Suns (three seasons) and Dallas Mavericks (one season), Williams averaged 11.0 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game over 887 career games.
Former Cavaliers’ general manager Wayne Embry and former teammate Danny Ferry shared their thoughts on Williams, via Windhorst’s piece:
“It’s devastating,” said Wayne Embry, the Cavs general manager from 1986-99. “He was a hard worker and a great player but I liked him more as a person than a basketball player.”
“Hot Rod was a great, caring and unselfish teammate,” said Danny Ferry, who was a teammate for six seasons. “He was a team first guy. He was also a valuable, intelligent and very underrated player. He could defend anyone. We were all lucky to have him as a teammate and friend.”
In Cavaliers’ franchise history, Williams is top-10 in games played (661; fourth), rebounds (4,669-third), points (8,504; seventh) and blocked shots (1,200, second). Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter.