Monson: Marvin Williams makes Utah Jazz better than they were two weeks ago
NBA • Forward looking to improve himself and his new team.
Published: July 12, 2012 04:34PM
Updated: July 13, 2012 12:24AM
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Gordon Monson

Mr. Congeniality, decked out in a fine suit, a large grin, a great attitude and, later, a green cap with a big note logo on it, walked into the spotlight at the Jazz’s practice facility on Thursday to introduce himself to Salt Lake City.

As first acquaintances go, this one wasn’t just top-drawer. It was spectacularly sweet and polite.

Before he entered the main room for his introduction to the media, 6-foot-9, 245-pound Marvin Williams extended his hand to a complete stranger in the hallway and humbly said: “Hi, I’m Marvin.”

He went on to do a radio interview during which he revealed his all-time favorite movie was “Coming to America,” and his favorite TV show was “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

Before any questions were asked in the group, Williams took the opportunity to … what’s this, express gratitude?

No lie.

“I’d like to thank everyone for coming,” he said, adding what a privilege it was for him to have the chance now to play for the Utah Jazz.

He also said he was thrilled to play here.

Asked about his first reaction when he found out he was being traded to Utah by the Hawks, with whom he had played for seven seasons since being picked with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2005 draft, and if there was any downside to the move, he answered: “There were no negative thoughts about going to Utah.”

He added: “This is one of the arenas that does show support for its team. It’s always so loud here. It’s always so loud.”

Williams revealed that directly after the session, he was returning to Chapel Hill, where he was attending classes at the school — North Carolina — for which he played one year of college ball before turning pro. He’s working on getting his sociology degree, despite the millions of dollars he’s already making in the NBA.

When asked what the reaction of his classmates is to him showing up for Structural Functionalism 201 or Group Dynamics 315, just like them, with an eager mind and a book bag on his back, he said when they ask him what he’s doing there, why he’s there, he echoes back: “What are you doing here? Why are you here?”

And when he runs into his old coach, Roy Williams, on campus, he said he thanks him for everything he taught him: “I can never thank him [enough] for what he’s done.”

As for basketball, Williams said he’s looking ahead to fitting in with the Jazz, making the team better, and still improving his own game.

“I’ll try to do it to the best of my ability,” he said. “Hopefully, I can come in and play my game.”

The upper reaches of that game might extend beyond his career averages of 11.5 points and 5.3 rebounds, if the Jazz can utilize him in comfortable roles. Last season, Williams shot a career-best 39 percent from beyond the arc and he said he hopes he can add that more efficient element to the Jazz’s offense.

“I feel like I can do a lot of things fairly well,” he said. “But I want to become more consistent.”

He said he doesn’t know any of the Jazz players well, but has had some interactions with Al Jefferson — “I’m excited to get a chance to meet everyone,” he said — and he mentioned that he’s a big fan of Gordon Hayward.

The pressures that come with being the No. 2 pick in the draft, taken one spot before Deron Williams that year, don’t trouble Marvin. “I don’t play basketball to meet others’ expectations,” he said. “I play to meet my own.”

So, has he?

“No,” he said. “I definitely want to get better. I’m only 26 years old.”

There may be no absolute proof — yet — that the Jazz are substantially better than they were before they acquired point guard Mo Williams, who was re-introduced last week, and now small forward Marvin Williams. But it sure feels like they are.

And if they’re as tenacious on the court as they are courteous off it, the roof just got ratcheted up a few notches.

GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 1280 and 960 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.