John "Hot Rod" Williams

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John Williams
Personal information
Born(1962-08-09)August 9, 1962
Sorrento, Louisiana, U.S.
DiedDecember 11, 2015(2015-12-11) (aged 53)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S.
Listed height6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)
Listed weight245 lb (111 kg)
Career information
High schoolSt. Amant (St. Amant, Louisiana)
CollegeTulane (1981–1985)
NBA draft1985: 2nd round, 45th overall pick
Selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers
Playing career1985–1999
PositionPower forward / center
Career history
1985Rhode Island Gulls
1986Staten Island Stallions
19861995Cleveland Cavaliers
19951998Phoenix Suns
1999Dallas Mavericks
Career highlights and awards
Career NBA statistics
Points9,784 (11.0 ppg)
Rebounds5,998 (6.8 rpg)
Blocks1,456 (1.6 bpg)
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at

John "Hot Rod" Williams (August 9, 1962 – December 11, 2015) was an American professional basketball player in the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1986 to 1999.

Early life[edit]

Williams was born in Sorrento, Louisiana, a small town near Baton Rouge. He got the nickname "Hot Rod" as a baby due to his habit of making engine-like noises as he scooted backwards across the floor.

College basketball[edit]

A 6'11" power forward/center, he played collegiately at Tulane University, leaving as that school's second all-time leading scorer. His career at Tulane was somewhat checkered, however. According to a Tulane booster club president, Williams was nearly kicked off the team in his sophomore year "for missing practices and for being unreliable". Additionally, he was a marginal student at best. He barely maintained a C average in high school, and had barely passed the SAT. At Tulane, his grade point average hovered in the C-D range despite a schedule laden with "decidedly non-academic" courses such as driver's education and weight training.[1]


On March 27, 1985, Williams was arrested for suspicion of point shaving. According to the indictment, Williams had taken at least $8,550 from Gary Kranz for influencing point spreads in games against Southern Miss, Memphis State and Virginia Tech. Williams was charged with sports bribery and conspiracy;[2] his first trial ended with a mistrial, but during his second trial a jury found him not guilty of all five counts.[3] Due in part to the scandal, Tulane shuttered its men's basketball program from 1985 to 1989.

NBA career[edit]

Williams was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1985 NBA draft with the 21st pick of the second round (45th overall). However, due to the trial, Williams spent the 1985–86 season playing for the United States Basketball League. Able to play for the Cavaliers the next year, Williams was named to the NBA all-rookie team for the 1986-87 season, along with teammates Ron Harper and Brad Daugherty. Perhaps Williams' finest season occurred in 1989, when he averaged 16.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.04 blocked shots per game while mostly serving as the team's sixth man. Following the 1989-90 season, he re-signed with the Cavaliers to a 7-year, $26.5 million contract, making him one of the five highest paid players in the NBA in the early 1990s. At the time, this was an unprecedented salary for a sixth man like Williams.[4] Prior to March 22, 2009, he ranked as the Cavaliers' all-time leader in blocked shots (1,200) (surpassed by Žydrūnas Ilgauskas).[5] Williams spent nine seasons with the Cavaliers before being traded to the Phoenix Suns for Dan Majerle during the 1995 offseason. He finished out his NBA career with the Dallas Mavericks.

Personal life and death[edit]

Williams had five children; John Williams Jr., John Francis Williams, Johnna Williams, John Paul Williams, and Sydney Gibbs.[citation needed] His nephew, Toe Nash, played professional baseball.[6]

Williams was diagnosed with colon cancer in April 2014, and died on December 11, 2015, at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at age 53.[7][8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Looney, Douglas S. (1985-04-22). "All I Want Is to Be Happy".
  2. ^ Recent scandals: BC, Tulane and Northwestern
  3. ^ SPORTS PEOPLE; No Second Thoughts, The New York Times, June 18, 1986, Accessed January 14, 2009.
  4. ^ McCallum, Jack (17 September 1990). "Pass Me The Bread". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  5. ^ Nets Can’t Stop Cavaliers’ Winning Streak
  6. ^ Gammons, Peter (January 11, 2001). "Devil Rays find The Natural in the cane fields". Retrieved May 16, 2012.
  7. ^ Windhorst, Brian (December 11, 2015). "John 'Hot Rod' Williams dies at 53". ESPN. Retrieved December 11, 2015.
  8. ^ Pluto, Terry (December 11, 2015). "Former Cleveland Cavalier John 'Hot Rod' Williams dies at 53". Advance Publications. Retrieved December 11, 2015.
  9. ^ Lewis, Ted (December 19, 2015). "John 'Hot Rod' Williams, former Tulane, NBA player, dies of cancer at age 53". The Advocate. Baton Rouge. Retrieved August 25, 2018.

External links[edit]