About 30 minutes after the Toronto Raptors knocked off the Boston Celtics110-107 last Wednesday, Lou Williams sits at his locker in the TD Garden visiting locker room, chumming with his new teammates. He dumps a packet of oyster crackers into a cup of clam chowder and begins spooning the New England delicacy into his mouth.
Kyle Lowry sits to his right. Reporters are waiting to speak with DeMar DeRozan a few lockers to his left. In the opposite corner, Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas bob their heads to whatever is bumping on their headphones. This up-and-coming Raptors squad, Williams says, brings back memories of the Philadelphia 76ers that took the Celtics to Game 7 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals.
"It reminds me a lot about that group. Very similar. Like, everybody's so young and hungry and wants to win," Williams says. "I think that was the same way with that group, we had so many guys on the team that wanted to prove themselves and at the same time, was playing well together. So, that reminds me a lot of here."
Williams is now almost two years removed from a season-ending ACL tear back when he was with the Hawks in late January 2013. Suddenly, he's in his 10th year in the NBA, with his third organization and 28 years old.
When I tell Williams I'm from Philly, he looks up, smiles and simply says, "Me too." He notices the funny look I give him: Williams grew up in Georgia before entering his name in the 2005 NBA Draft fresh out of high school. We slap hands. "That's what's up," he says.
"It was really a family atmosphere," Williams remembers. "We damn near grew up together. I had my first child when I was in Philadelphia. [Andre Iguodala] had his first two kids in Philly. Everybody really knew each other's families."
I really miss Lou. Would welcome him back with open arms. Always been a stand up guy.