"I'm not running and dunking on people yet," Williams said by
phone Tuesday from Durham, N.C., where he has been undergoing
intensive rehabilitation since last summer. "I wish I could. But
I'm definitely making huge steps compared to where I was last
The former No. 2 draft pick out of Duke said he started doing
some shooting and light jogging about four months ago, and recently
jumped off his injured left leg for the first time. His next goal
is to work his way up to sprinting and cutting.
"The big thing is trusting in the leg again," he said. "I'm
finally starting to believe in it again."
On June 19, 2003, Williams crashed his recently bought
motorcycle into a light pole in Chicago, fracturing his pelvis,
tearing knee ligaments and damaging nerves in his left leg. He was
still on crutches when training camp rolled around in the fall, and
he wound up missing the entire season.
The Bulls honored the Plainfield, N.J., native's contract last
season -- despite the fact that he violated a standard contract
clause that prohibits players from engaging in dangerous activities
like riding motorcycles -- but waived him in February after reaching
a settlement on the remaining two years.
The buyout was reportedly worth about $3 million.
Williams said he has not had contact with the Bulls in recent
months, but would like to play for them again.
"My door is still open with Chicago," Williams said. "When my
time comes to come back, I will definitely give them the right of
first refusal. I'd definitely play for them as long as I can, but
if it doesn't work out, I just want to play somewhere."
Whether Williams, 22, can return at all is in question. The
nerve damage left part of his left leg without feeling, though he
said most of that has been restored. Williams has taken inspiration
from Duke assistant coach Johnny Dawkins, who was hampered by
injuries early in his pro career and recovered to play several more
Nevertheless, Williams has prepared himself for a future that
does not include pro basketball. He said he plans eventually to go
back to school and get an MBA -- he graduated from Duke in three
years with a degree in sociology in 2002 -- and would like to work
in a sports-related enterprise.
Whatever he ends up doing, it is doubtful he will be tested more
-- both physically and mentally -- than he has in the last year.
"Playing basketball, you think you've been challenged, by
different coaches, different players, different situations,"
Williams said. "But for me, this is the most challenging thing
I've ever had to go through."