Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Related: Jazz add Williams to the smorgasbord
SALT LAKE CITY — Kevin O'Connor recalls that the first time Mo Williams was introduced to the Utah media as a new member of the Utah Jazz, the 2003 second-round draftee only had a suitcase and a chip on his shoulder to prove NBA doubters wrong.
Williams returns with a whole lot more this time around.
A decade later, Williams has nine years of professional playing experience, a big family that includes four children and another on the way, a burning desire to be a leader on his second Jazz team, and gritty toughness that the organization is thrilled to have back on its side.
Williams also returns with a happy-to-be-here-again attitude.
"I couldn't ask to be at a better place. It's a homecoming for me," Williams said Tuesday at a reintroduction press conference in Utah. "I jokingly said it felt like being drafted all over again."
O'Connor was more than eager to rectify what he still considers the "biggest mistake" of his NBA GM career — allowing Williams to go to the Bucks in 2004 after his rookie season in Utah. Williams, by the way, said he never held any "ill will" against the Jazz and always appreciated his time here.
The Jazz used the bulk of the $10.8 million trade exception they picked up when dealing Mehmet Okur to New Jersey last December to pull of this part of a four-team trade to bring him to his original NBA home.
"I think we've gotten better," O'Connor said, refusing to comment on the reported Devin Harris-Marvin Williams trade. "He's experienced. He knows he wants to be here and he gives us an opportunity to have a player that's played a lot of minutes in the league and has been successful. ... I think we've gotten better."
Before doing interviews, Williams sported a No. 16 jersey for a quick photo session. The 6-foot-1 point guard jokingly said he'll "let" Al Jefferson, his fellow Mississippi buddy, keep his preferred No. 25 — emphasis on the "let" part.
Williams credited his children for picking his new number.
"I asked my kids what number they wanted me to pick so they chose 16," he said with a smile. "Ask me why, I don't know."
Williams is much surer about other things.
For one thing, the 29-year-old — who'll likely become the starting point guard with Harris reportedly heading to Atlanta — promises with conviction that he'll always give it his all.
"It's all about leading by example. Am I going to be perfect? Absolutely not. Am I going to have some bad games? You going to write some stuff about me? Absolutely," Williams said. "But one thing you're not going to write is he's not going hard, he's not being competitive, he's not being a leader. That's one thing that's never going to be written."
Added Williams: "I know one thing that I will bring is my toughness and leadership."
Another certainty for Williams is that even while playing in Milwaukee, Cleveland and Los Angeles (with the Clippers), his heart remained fond for Utah. He thought about playing here again some day.
Williams also greatly appreciated a lesson taught to him by then-Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.
"After you go to other organizations, you really appreciate this organization, the way they run it, the way Jerry approached things," Williams said. "Everybody know Jerry. He's very fair. You play hard, he'll reward you. That's one thing he taught me — you play hard, you'll play. And when I played hard, I played and I always remember that."
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