It’s a little after 9 a.m. on the first Wednesday of March and Celtics forward Grant Williams can’t help but lean back in his Mavix M9 gaming chair and reflect on how appalled he was when news dropped the day prior that the New York Liberty had been fined $500,000 for chartering flights.
It was a reminder to both Williams—the youngest VP of the National Basketball Players Association—and women across the sports landscape of why the efforts of organizations like the NBPA are so vital.
“We have to support our players because we want the best products on the court,” Williams tells us via Zoom. “See how it goes and see that the value of not only the W but how the value of the brand of the WNBA will grow.”
From the moment Williams stepped into the League out of Tennessee, the 23-year-old has been devoted to making the landscape easier to traverse for future players while growing their individual brands at the same time.
As a rookie during the Players Association’s annual winter meeting during the 2019-20 season, Williams ran for a VP role in the executive committee against Karl-Anthony Towns and Kyrie Irving. Ultimately losing out to the now Brooklyn guard, Williams’ run planted the seeds within the minds of the Board of Representatives of the unique vision he could bring to the role.
CJ McCollum, Andre Iguodala and Chris Paul all came up to Williams at the end of the meeting, expressing their support for the youngster and for his passion. “Don’t stop running, we would love to have you on this exec committee,” he recalls them saying.
Next thing he knew, Paul’s three-year term had come to an end, with McCollum consequently filling his shoes as the PA’s next president, leaving his VP seat vacated.
This time around, Williams received five nominations: CP3, CJ, Andre, Jaylen Brown and one other vote.
Since last August, Williams has been directly involved with the setup and installation of the social justice committee, which came out of the 2020 Bubble’s social movements and protests. Grant’s focus isn’t on what he can do for the players now. “It’s, What can I do for you when your career is done? What can I do for you when you first get into the League?”
“I’ve just been trying my best to learn and absorb all the information possible, but also impact and speak on my opinion and voice the issues of not only the younger players, but also players who are not in a position of the superstars, and the ones that make millions of dollars already,” Williams adds.
He’s relatively new to the inner workings of the NBA, like dealing directly with the League office and the players he doesn’t yet have relationships with, but this new landscape has provided Williams opportunities to grow as a leader.
“If I can’t figure it out myself, I’m gonna find someone who can,” he says. “If I can’t help you out today, I’m gonna find a way to help you tomorrow. I feel like servant leadership. I feel like as a man, I’ve really embraced it.”
“Whether it’s the NBA, whether it’s mentoring, I feel like these are all things that are very valuable for the next generation. Because we’ve set ourselves up well as NBA players to make generational wealth,” Williams says. “Now it’s about helping those around us to do the same.”
Photo Credit Richard Brooks NBPA and via Getty Images.