25. White Chocolate
It starts with a simple question that YouTube has made all the easier to answer in the past decade: Have you seen the elbow pass? There happens to be a compilation available at the ready for your perusal if not, is what I’m saying. I don’t mean to reduce an otherwise otherworldly player to a single move, but if there is a single move to be reduced to, well…
West Virginia native Jason Williams played with Randy Moss on his high school basketball team. He then went to Marshall to play for Billy Donovan and followed Donovan to Florida, where his off-court issues were not enough to deter the Sacramento Kings from drafting him seventh overall in 1998. His flashy playmaking had already turned enough heads for the point guard to earn the racially-loaded moniker “White Chocolate,” but in practice and certainly in hindsight, it seems more of an inclusive nickname than one meant to ostracize.
Already a flourishing team, with Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic and Vlade Divac in the ranks, Williams made a name for himself as in Sacramento through highlight-reel plays that seemed to come straight out of a video game. The most notable came in the 2000 NBA Rookie Challenge, when Williams hit Raef LaFrentz with a pass off his own elbow on a fastbreak. As Williams himself claims, had James Posey not fouled him, LaFrentz would have scored, giving Williams(’ elbow) the assist.
Though attitude issues persisted, Williams remained a productive player through spells with the Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat and Orlando Magic, even serving as a starter on the title-winning 2006 Miami Heat team. He retired in 2008 due to injuries and returned in 2009, and he ultimately retired as the Grizzlies’ all-time leader in assists, a record Mike Conley has since surpassed. But, by virtue of his immortal highlights, Jason Williams will always be White Chocolate.