At 6-11, Herb Williams has played both center and power forward in his long and successful NBA career. A mainstay on the Indiana Pacers' front line for most of the 1980s, he provided the club with consistent scoring and rebounding for 7 seasons. After a stint of 3 seasons in Dallas, he settled into a second career with the New York Knicks as a backup All-Star center Patrick Ewing. Popular with his Knick teammates as well as fans at Madison Square Garden, in 1998-99 he competed in his 18th NBA season, one of only six players in league history to reach that plateau. A native of Columbus, Ohio, Williams attended Ohio State, where he was the first player in school history to score more than 2,000 points. He finished with career averages of 17.6 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. Selected by the Pacers with the 14th overall pick in the 1981 NBA Draft, he turned in a fine rookie season. Starting in 75 games, he averaged 11.5 points and 7.4 rebounds and ranked seventh in the NBA in blocked shots with 2.17 per game. The next five seasons saw Williams at the top of his game. He occupied the center spot for most of the 1982-83 campaign and poured in 16.9 points per game. Off to a hot start the next season (19.4 ppg through 16 contests), he was sidelined for 11 games with an ankle injury and finished the year at 14.9 points per outing. In 1984-85 he finished second on the club in both scoring and rebounding and had six games in which he hit for 30 or more points. Williams had his finest season as a pro in 1985-86, averaging 19.9 points and 9.1 rebounds. He also finished seventh in the league in blocked shots (2.36 per game), setting a club record for total blocks with 184. In 1986-87 the Pacers reached the playoffs for the first time in his career, although they lost in the first round. Williams spent one more full season with Indiana. Midway through the 1988-89 campaign he was swapped to Dallas for Detlef Schrempf. Williams was averaging 12.6 points at the time of the trade. Plagued by injuries after joining the Mavericks, his output dipped to 6.6 points and 6.6 boards in 30 contests. During the next three seasons he was used more as a bench player than as a starter. In 1989-90 he dipped below double digits in scoring for the first time in his career, but he put up solid numbers in the Mavericks' brief foray into the playoffs, averaging 13.7 points. Although injuries limited him to 60 games in 1990-91, he recorded a career-high field-goal percentage of .507 and turned in his best offensive season while at Dallas, scoring 12.5 points per game. Prior to the 1992-93 season the New York Knicks went in search of a veteran backup for Patrick Ewing and signed Williams as a free agent. Williams saw limited playing time in his 12th season, appearing in 55 games and logging 10.4 minutes per contest. His output plummeted to 2.9 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. Playing in 70 games in 1993-94, Williams made key contributions during the Knicks' run to the NBA Finals. He played a similar role in 1994-95, although a broken hand shelved him during the middle of the season. He continued to fill that role in 1995-96, although for salary cap reasons he was traded in midseason to Toronto. After playing only one game for the Raptors he was released and resigned by New York, where he reassumed his position as Ewing's backup. He played in a total of 54 games over the next three seasons in his role as emergency center, lending a veteran presence to the Knick bench and locker room. Prior to the 1999-2000 training camp, Williams was waived by the Knicks, putting an end to a solid 18-year career.
The popular Williams, one of the Knicks' tri-captains, played in only six games in his 18th pro campaign, though he was always on call and ready for duty. In his 34 minutes he scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds for averages of 1.7 ppg and 1.0 rpg. He shot .500 from the field (4-for-8) and 1.000 (2-for-2) from the free throw line, and posted highs of four points at Detroit on February 28 and two rebounds twice. He appeared in eight of the Knicks' 20 playoff games but logged just 16 minutes, scoring two points and gathering three rebounds.
Waived by the 76ers on 2/21 and re-signed for the remainder of the season by the Knicks on 2/25 Traded by the Knicks with Ronnie Grandison to the Philadelphia 76ers for Terry Cummings on 2/19
The popular Williams got into just 21 games in 1996-97, the fewest of his career. He averaged 1.9 points and 1.5 rebounds in 8.8 minutes per game, also career-lows. He came off the bench 19 times and made two starts when Patrick Ewing was injured, going scoreless in six minutes at Cleveland on Jan. 29 and getting two points in seven minutes against Charlotte on Feb. 2. He scored a season-high 10 points in 17 minutes in a 102-72 rout of Dallas on Jan. 7. He played in three playoff games, scoring four points and grabbing one rebound in a total of 23 minutes.
A fan favorite at Madison Square Garden, Williams played 44 games in 1995-96, all but one of them as a Knick, and averaged 3.1 points and 2.0 rebounds in 13.0 minutes per game. Most of his action came in the second half of the season, after he was traded to Toronto on Feb. 18, waived by the Raptors five days later (after playing just one game in a Toronto uniform) and then resigned by the Knicks on Feb. 28. Williams, who played in just 13 games during the first three months of the season, appeared in 27 of New York's last 28 games, averaging 3.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in 13.8 minutes per game during the stretch run. He had 10 points and four rebounds against Golden State on March 3; seven points, seven rebounds and four blocks in a 102-99 win over Indiana on March 20; seven rebounds in 33 minutes against Dallas on March 24; nine points against Seattle on 4-for-5 shooting on April 8; and eight points against Toronto on April 15. He appeared in five postseason games, averaging 1.8 points in 6.6 minutes per game.
In his 14th NBA season, Williams suffered a broken hand on December 28 in a game against the Detroit Pistons. He had appeared in all 26 games prior to the injury. The break required surgery, and he was placed on the injured list on January 3. He did not return to action until February 14. In 31 games after rejoining the club he averaged 2.2 points and 2.0 rebounds in 11.9 minutes per outing. He started three contests late in the season, filling in for Patrick Ewing, who was nursing a sore hamstring. He finished the year with averages of 3.3 points and 2.4 rebounds per game. Williams saw limited action for the Knicks in the playoffs as the club reached the conference semifinals before falling to the Indiana Pacers. He played in 8 of the team's 11 postseason games and averaged 1.0 points and 0.9 rebounds in 6.9 minutes per game.
Williams served as Patrick Ewing's backup for a second straight season in 1993-94. He appeared in 70 games and continued to rack up milestones in his 13th NBA campaign. On December 23 against the Hawks at Atlanta, Williams played in his 900th career game, and on March 19 against the Boston Celtics he registered career block No. 1,500. Overall, Williams averaged 3.3 points and 2.6 rebounds in 11.1 minutes per game. His best offensive outing occurred on April 8 against the 76ers at Philadelphia when he registered 15 points and 2 assists. Williams saw limited action in the postseason as the Knicks advanced to the NBA Finals before losing to the Houston Rockets in seven games.
The New York Knicks went in search of a backup for Patrick Ewing and signed Williams as a free agent two weeks into the 1992-93 season. Williams came off the bench in 55 games for the Knicks, contributing 2.9 points and 2.7 rebounds in 10.4 minutes per game. Now in his 12th season, Williams had his best game of the year on December 30 against the Indiana Pacers. With Ewing in foul trouble, he played 29 minutes and tallied 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. Williams experienced the postseason for only the third time in his long career when the Knicks advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1993. The veteran center appeared in 7 of 15 playoff games, contributing 2.0 points and 2.0 rebounds in 9.9 minutes per game.
Williams appeared in 75 games for Dallas, starting 26 times, and averaged 11.5 points and 6.1 rebounds. His scoring average was third best on the team behind Rolando Blackman's 18.3 and Derek Harper's 17.7, and he led the Mavericks in blocked shots with 98. The 11-year veteran scored a season-high 26 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves on April 3. The rebuilding Mavericks suffered through another long season, finishing 22-60 and in fifth place in the Midwest Division.
Williams struggled through an injury-riddled season, missing 22 games during the year with bursitis of his right knee. When healthy, he started 36 times in his 60 appearances and averaged 12.5 points and 6.0 rebounds, shooting a career-best .507 from the floor. Now in his 10th season, Williams scored his 10,000th career point on March 20 against the Phoenix Suns. He lost his position as team leader in blocked shots, finishing with 88 to James Donaldson's 93. Meanwhile, the Mavericks stumbled through a difficult season, ending at 28-54 and sixth place in the Midwest Division.
Williams settled into a reserve role in his first full season with the Mavericks, coming off the bench in 62 of his 81 games to spell Sam Perkins and James Donaldson in the Dallas frontcourt. Williams led the team in blocked shots with 106 and turned in season averages of 8.6 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. When Dallas returned to the playoffs in 1990, it marked only the second time in Williams's nine-year career that he played in the postseason. He averaged 13.7 points and 4.3 rebounds as the Mavericks were swept by the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round.
Williams opened the season with Indiana, starting in the Pacers' first 46 games and averaging 12.6 points. He was then traded to the Dallas Mavericks on February 21 in exchange for Detlef Schrempf and a second-round draft choice. Williams left Indiana with his name stamped throughout the Pacers' record books. As of the 1993-94 season, he still ranked first in franchise history in blocked shots (1,094), third in games played (577), fourth in rebounds (4,494), and ninth in scoring (8,637). Williams started at center 20 times in 30 games for Dallas but was hampered by injuries throughout the rest of the season. As a Mavericks player, he averaged only 6.6 points and 6.6 rebounds. While still with the Pacers, the eight-year veteran turned in the finest single-game performance of his career. In a January 23 matchup with the Denver Nuggets, he scored 21 points and pulled down 29 rebounds, setting a Pacers single-game record for rebounds and establishing an NBA high for the season.
Williams moved to a reserve role in 1987-88, coming off the bench in 38 of his 75 appearances as a backup to Wayman Tisdale and Steve Stipanovich on the Pacers' front line. He returned to defensive form, however, leading the Pacers and ranking eighth in the NBA with 1.95 blocks per game. The seven-year veteran turned in averages of 10.0 points and 6.3 rebounds per contest. He spent seven games on the injured list with a severe contusion of the lower left leg. Despite the scoring efforts of Chuck Person (17.0 ppg) and Tisdale (16.1), Indiana took a step backward, finishing with a 38-44 mark and in last place in the competitive Central Division.
Chuck Person and John Long arrived in Indiana in 1986 and, along with Williams, helped lead the Pacers to their first playoff berth in six years. Williams captained a team that finished 41-41 and in fourth place in the Central Division. Now in his sixth NBA season, Williams averaged 14.9 points and 7.3 rebounds, ranking third on the team in scoring behind Person (18.8 ppg) and Long (15.2). He suffered bruised ribs during the season which forced him out of eight games and limited his mobility throughout the year. For the first time in his career, Williams failed to lead the Pacers in blocked shots, with his 93 blocks ranking second to Steve Stipanovich's 97. The Pacers drew the Atlanta Hawks in a first-round playoff series and lost in four games. Williams averaged 11.8 points and 5.0 rebounds in his first postseason experience.
With a knee injury limiting teammate Clark Kellogg to only 19 games in 1985-86, Williams stepped up and enjoyed his finest pro season. He led the Pacers in scoring (19.9 ppg), rebounding (9.1 rpg), and blocked shots (2.36 per game), establishing career highs in all three categories. Williams ranked seventh in the NBA in blocks, 13th in rebounding, and 27th in scoring. His season total of 184 blocks remains, as of the 1993-94 season, a franchise record. Appropriately, Williams established his single-game scoring high during the year with 40 points against the New York Knicks on March 17. He also nailed a memorable 81-foot heave in a January 8 game against the Sacramento Kings.
Williams led the Pacers in blocked shots (134) for the fourth straight season and ranked second on the team to Clark Kellogg in both scoring and rebounding. Williams contributed 18.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game, while Kellogg finished at 18.6 and 9.4. Williams compiled 29 games of 20 or more points and 6 games of at least 30. Meanwhile, Indiana continued to struggle, posting a 22-60 record and finishing in last place in the Central Division for a third straight year.
Williams began the season at center and raced to averages of 19.4 points and 9.3 rebounds in Indiana's first 16 games. But an ankle injury forced him out of 11 games and hampered him for the rest of the year, lowering his season production to 14.9 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. Williams moved to power forward for the greater portion of the year, giving way to Steve Stipanovich at center. He scored in double figures 49 times in 69 appearances and finished second to Clark Kellogg (19.1 ppg, 9.1 rpg) in both scoring and rebounding. Williams led the Pacers in blocked shots for the third straight season, with 108.
After spending most of his rookie season at power forward, Williams switched to full-time center duty in his second campaign. He averaged 16.9 points and 7.5 rebounds in 78 games, ranking third on the team in scoring and second in rebounding behind Clark Kellogg's 10.6. Williams led the Pacers in blocked shots (171) for the second straight season, placing eighth in the NBA with 2.19 per game. The Pacers continued to struggle, however, finishing at 20-62 and in last place in the Central Division.
Herb Williams, who scored 2,011 points over four years at Ohio State, was the first player in school history to record at least 2,000 points for a career. He started all 114 games for the Buckeyes and finished with career averages of 17.6 points and 9.7 rebounds per contest. The Indiana Pacers selected the 6-foot-11 giant with the 14th overall pick in the 1981 NBA Draft. Williams established himself immediately as a force in the paint, starting 75 of his 82 games and leading the Pacers in both rebounding (7.4 rpg) and blocked shots (178). He ranked seventh in the NBA in blocks per game, with 2.17. Indiana limped to a 35-47 record in Williams's rookie season, finishing fourth in the Central Division.
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