When Mo Williams was a Cleveland Cavalier the first time around, it ended in disappointment. As LeBron James’ main running mate up until James left in the summer of 2010 after he and Williams fell short against the Magic, Williams was the guy who became the face of the team in the aftermath. He became more vocal, probably a bit angry and suffered through most of a dreadful season a year after helping the Cavs win 66 games. When he was ultimately dealt to the Clippers in a deal that netted the Cavs the pick that became Kyrie Irving, it seemed as if Williams would never reach the peak of what could have been in Cleveland.
And yet, somehow, here we are. Five years after being traded away, after being publicly angry with LeBron, he repaired that relationship and won a championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers. And perhaps even more unlikely, Williams played a role in the Cavaliers’ title win. In Game 7, he spelled Irving for 4:45 and he didn’t hurt the Cavs in any way and he even scored. It was almost as if he’d been waiting to play in that moment and on that stage since leaving Cleveland the first time around.
Williams, because of how good he was during his first stint and because of how he defended the Cavs after LeBron left, is and has been a fan favorite. His overall 2015-16 season - 41 games played, his lowest scoring average since his rookie reason while being largely absent due to injuries - doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence going forward and he really didn’t make the type of impact some had hoped he would this season.
While Irving came back from injury, Williams did a decent job filling in at point guard and keeping the Cavs functioning to start the year. But when Irving came back, and he started dealing with injuries, his role sort of disappeared. In his place, Matthew Dellavedova filled in as a shooter and as an upgrade over Williams on defense. Because of all this, Williams never really recreated the magic from before and it was shock to see him playing in Game 7 vs. the Warriors, much less holding his own and making an impact.
But that doesn’t matter, really. This season is what Williams came so close to the first time around and what he couldn’t help LeBron do back in 2010. Williams, in a sense, is a representation of everything the Cavs, the city and its fans had to go through to get to this point, to get to a title. He was there for the highs, there for the lows and is part of the reason why Irving ended up in Cleveland atop of the 2011 Draft.
Williams winning a title is the closest thing the Cavs can get to seeing guy from that era - Anderson Varejao, Delonte West, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Daniel Gibson and many more - win a ring in Cleveland. He’s a guy who came so close with LeBron before, only to bounce around the league, randomly score 52 points in a game and end up back in Cleveland when LeBron came back.
After the Cavs won, Williams was speechless, unable to describe the moment. His answer is a cliche, but it’s also fair. How can he, in that moment, explain what it is like to win after getting so close before and then only coming back because of the guy he teamed up with before? You can see it on his face in pictures after too. One in particular - a photo of him with the trophy he posted to Instagram - really does say more than 1,000 words ever good. The look on his face is one of wonder, one of relief and disbelief. Aside from LeBron and maybe Dan Gilbert, no one on the current roster knows what how long it took to get to this moment. As LeBron said in talking about Williams at the parade, there was unfinished business for Williams in Cleveland and with LeBron.
Like the city, the team and the fans, Mo Williams has been waiting for this, chasing this and, ultimately, nothing else really matters.