Chat with Pat Williams
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, we'll be chatting NBA Finals with the Orlando Magic's senior vice president Pat Williams.
Starting with a minor league baseball career, Williams has spent nearly 50 years in professional sports, leading to helping found the Magic and his current role. During his time as GM, he built a Magic team that went to the NBA Finals in 1995.
In addition to his position with the Magic, Williams, @OrlandoMagicPat, is also a motivational speaker and author, with more than 70 books to his credi, including his latest "Leadership Excellence" which hit stores in February.
Send your questions now and join Williams Thursday at 10:30 a.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (10:27 AM)
We'll be starting with Pat in a couple of minutes!
Buzzmaster (10:30 AM)
Let's get started!
How hard is it to keep up with things like news around the league while also keeping your finger on the pulse of college basketball to know what's going on come the draft?
Pat Williams (10:33 AM)
A front office job in the NBA never ends. You've got to be current every day. What's going on within the league, what is going on in the college world. And now, internationally, you've got to really keep your finger on the pulse of world's basketball. That's how big it's become. You've got to have a good staff around you. You need the help. It all comes down to finding players and then drafting them.
Pat Williams (10:33 AM)
It's very exciting, very fulfilling, draining at times, but the joy of putting a successful team together really is unmatchable.
How important are things like the NBA Combine?
Pat Williams (10:35 AM)
The combine is very helpful. Generally the top players are not going to be there. But to see a large number of prospects in a very controlled environment, in other words, no fans, no hoopla, it's just pure basketball, you learn so much. How does this young player respond to coaching? How does he get along with his teammates? How does he handle frustration? You can see so many things under the microscope. You also can get legit measurements and find out a kid who's been 6-10 his whole career is really 6-7. The little point guard who's been 180 is really 160. It's extremely valuable.
Pat Williams (10:36 AM)
Much of that combine will end up going late first or second round, but if you can pluck a kid in the second round who is good enough to play in the league, you've had a superb draft. If you can steal a second guy in the second round, generally from the combine, then you've had a very successful draft. Plus the combine is great for mingling with your peers. Out there right now is Jerry West, Doug Collins, Kevin McHale and on and on in a more relaxed setting. I'm a big fan of the combine.
How much of a no-brainer was it to draft Shaq? how much discussion was tehre?
Pat Williams (10:39 AM)
You are correct it was a no-brainer. That was the '92 draft. The second player was Mourning and the third was Laettner. We liked Mourning. And Laettner, remember had a remarkable college career. Shaq's upside was so obvious, we had no problem making that pick. We had four wonderful seasons with Shaq. He helped put our franchise on the map as a young team. His departure in '96 broke a lot of hearts in central Florida. But so be it. Interestingly enough, Shaq has never left Orlando. His home is there, his family is there.
how hands are you with things like the draft?
Pat Williams (10:40 AM)
At this point in my career, all of those are being handled by other people. Twardzik handles that. I love to sit in on draft day, it's like Christmas and the Fourth of July all in one. Every draft day is spelled: H-O-P-E. Every player we draft is the best player on the board. He's the one that's going to help out the franchise the most.
Pat Williams (10:41 AM)
I still love the draft. I ran drafts in Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia for many years. It's still the best time of the year in the NBA, as far as I'm concerned.
Deven (Orlando, FL)
How confident are you that Dwight Howard will stay with the Magic?
Pat Williams (10:42 AM)
We'll just have to see what happens. Right now there are a lot of steps that are being taken. No. 1, the hiring of the new GM. Then he's got to get on the coaching search. The draft, free agency coming July 1 and then getting into the middle of the Dwight situation and finding out exactly what he's thinking and what do we do. Dwight knows our position. We just have to find out what his plans are. So, it's going to be a very busy summer, busy offseason for the Magic franchise, probably the biggest we've ever had.
Where do you find enough time to write so many books?
Pat Williams (10:44 AM)
It's amazing what you can accomplish in 16 hours a day. I'm giving 8 hours for eating and sleeping. Writing books and speaking and the ball club and children that's what I stay close to. I'm not a golfer, not a fisherman, I don't have a stamp collection, so I stay very close to those areas which are fullfilling. I don't waste any time. Live out your passion. If you're passionate about something you can do so much. You're living it you're having fun. You're stimulated. That's my advice to anybody. If you're not happy about what you're doing, it's hard. You become a clock watcher. By the way, my latest book is called "Leadership Excellence."
Are you watching the Finals or is it too hard without the Magic being in it?
Pat Williams (10:45 AM)
Obviously, we would love to be there, but these Finals are fascinating. Two teams loaded with talent, in their prime. I'm very impressed with OKC. I'm looking forward to a terrific Finals.
Pat Williams (10:45 AM)
My only problem is staying awake deep into the second half.
Charles (Oklahoma City)
In your time running drafts who was your biggest miss and what factors led you to draft that player?
Pat Williams (10:48 AM)
My first draft was 1970. I was the GM of the Bulls. On the first round, we took Jimmy Collins from New Mexico State, who never really made it. The first two picks of the second round were Nate Archibald and Calvin Murphy, both hall of famers...Ouch! That draft still hurts. Fortunately, I had many years to make up for it and I think we did, drafting John Drew, Darryl Dawkins, Mo Cheeks, Andrew Toney, Charles Barkley, Shaq, Nick Anderson, Dennis Scott. But you live and die with the draft and you never forget those great players you passed and it happens ever year.
Pat Williams (10:49 AM)
That really hurts to look back and your guy failed and two picks later there's an all-star sitting there.....Uggghhh, how could we miss? Unfortunately, there are no mulligans in the draft. I've often said that you should have the draft two years after the player enters the league. No one loses a job......just kidding.
Chirag (North Carolina)
What are your thoughts o flopping in today's game? Should it be noticed?
Pat Williams (10:51 AM)
The commissioner is concerned about it. It's become a little too dramatic, Perhaps a little too calculated. But taking charges is part of the game and great defensive players know how to get in position, take the charge and they don't have to go put on a big show. When I was in Chicago, our guards were Jerry Sloan and Norm Van Leer, two all-time great defenders. Nobody was better at taking charges at those two guys. Go back and look at the old video. You'll be impressed.
Pat Williams (10:51 AM)
Thank you very much for interfacing with me today from Bristol, CT. You can always reach me by e-mail at PWilliams@OrlandoMagic.com.