Clocking in at No. 10 on the #CavsRank countdown is presumed backup point guard Mo Williams. But it is unclear if Williams is actually going to be playing this year. There is a lot of chatter that Mo Williams will not be on the Cavaliers this upcoming season and that’s probably not too big of a deal.
Reflected in his rank is that Williams skills have eroded considerably over the last few seasons, in large part due to a variety of leg injuries. He doesn't have the athleticism of Jordan McRae or the potential of Kay Felder. He doesn't provide the leadership and championship experience of James Jones. In short, Mo Williams is probably replaceable for the 2016-17 Cavaliers.
Williams being a replaceable player for the Cavs wasn't always the case. And if last season was Mo's final hurrah than it's time to recognize his well deserved place as one of the most important players in all of Cavaliers history.
When Williams was traded along with Joe Smith to the Cavaliers in 2008, it was a turning point for the franchise. The Cavaliers, for better or worse, had acquired LeBron James' primary running mate for remainder of his first stint in Cleveland. Despite what revisionist history may say, Williams was an excellent fit and a good piece to play alongside LeBron. Mo's well rounded offensive game allowed him to thrive next to LeBron.
Williams never shot better from the three-point line than he did when he played with James, and William's also made his only all star game during his time as LeBron's point guard. However, it wasn't just Williams thriving in the new found partnership with LeBron the franchise was also reaching new heights. In Mo's first season with the Cavaliers, the team won a franchise record and league best 66 games and also set a franchise record going 39-2 at home. In Mo's second season with the Cavs, the team yet again lead the league in wins.
But for as much success as Cleveland had in the regular season there was heart ache in the post season. Williams’ two seasons alongside LeBron ended in perhaps the two most painful post season losses in franchise history. The 2008-09 season was supposed to end with a Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron show down, it was a forgone conclusion. There was an add campaign built around it an everything.
But the Cavs were tripped up in the Eastern Conference Finals by a feisty Orlando squad. It was stunning, nobody saw it coming. The Magic's shooting from three was so unbelievable it was almost as if a bunch of players on their roster drank Mike's Special Stuff from Space Jam and got their performance enhanced. The 2009-2010 playoffs weren't any better for Cleveland. After easily dispatching the Chicago Bulls in round one the Cavaliers were matched up with the Eastern Conference powerhouse Boston Celtics. The Cavaliers lost to the Celtics in six games and a few weeks later LeBron left the team to join the Miami Heat.
Do any of those post season failures rest on Williams? No. With the benefit of hindsight many will point out the overall lack of talent of those two league leading Cavalier teams. They are not wrong. But Mo Williams was not that lack of talent. He was a good but flawed player whose team was better with him than without. He was not the reason the Cavs lost against Orlando, or Boston or the reason LeBron went to Miami. But none the less his reputation is associated with those failures and his contributions to some of the most exceptional accomplishments in franchise history are largely ignored. Williams was never as beloved as Anderson Varajeo but he defended Cleveland the fiercest in the post Decision era. Williams felt betrayed when LeBron left and was vocal about it. As a fan of the franchise I appreciated his honesty, it was refreshing and I found it relatable.
Williams was also the catalyst for the rebirth of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite publicly saying he wanted to remain a Cav it was Mo Williams who the Cavs traded to the Clippers for Baron Davis and the draft pick that ultimately became Kyrie Irving. Without that trade, there is very likely no return of LeBron and Cleveland very likely would still be in the middle of a championship drought.
It’s that history that made it feel so right to see Mo at the championship parade, shirtless smoking a cigar and celebrating with the fans that he had shared so much with; Williams proved that coming home and getting a happy ending isn't just for kings.
Whether he retires or not, Williams was a member of some of the brightest moments in team history. Both his stints in Cleveland were record breaking and special in their own way.
If last year was indeed his final season lets all take a moment to appreciate Mo Williams.
Ninth place votes: 1
10th place votes: 3
11th place votes: 4
12th place votes: 0
13th place votes: 3
14th place votes: 2