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?Fly Williams wasn?t just one of the greatest players to ever play in Rucker Park, he was one of the greatest players to ever play anywhere. Like Pee Wee Kirkland, Earl Manigault and Joe Hammond, he transcended that park with what he could do on a basketball court. You could not guard Fly. He was 6-foot-5, a natural scorer with an incredible jump shot. He could jump to the moon. He didn?t have any weaknesses on the court. His only weakness was his head.I saw very few guys who were better than Fly Williams in the open court. And keep in mind that I coached Dr. J at Rucker Park for a number of years on those Daily News and Westsiders teams right after he left college and was playing with the Virginia Squires in the ABA. Fly was a force of nature in the transition game, much like Latrell Sprewell was. But Fly also had an unstoppable jump shot. He could take it coast to coast and dunk on you ferociously or he could pull up from 30 feet with the sweetest jumper you ever saw. He had all the moves, Forget about it! He was unstoppable. He was good enough to be one of the all time greats in the NBA if he had his head on straight. But Fly was crazy. He was nuts. He was off the hook.There was one game in the Rucker League playoffs that we played against a Brooklyn team in the summer of 1975. Fly was on that Brooklyn team but didn?t show up for the game. We were beating them by 24 points at halftime. When we started warming up for the second half, in walks Fly. I started hearing the guys on my team saying, ?Aw man, here comes Fly.? I said, ?What?s wrong with you guys? We?re winning by 24 points!? And they said, ?Yeah man, but that?s Fly!?He came on the court and dissected us. By the end of the third quarter, we were only up by ten. We eventually won by one point, but Fly scored about thirty points against us in a single half. And I had an excellent team. I had guys that were in the NBA that didn?t start for my team.In the summer of 1977, that Brooklyn team disbanded. That year, I had a so-so team called Ken?s All-Stars. By that time, Doctor J and the NBA guys were gone. The NBA put out a decree that if you played on concrete and got hurt, they would void your contract. So very few big-time pros were playing.? My team was decent, but it wasn?t the caliber of the teams that I?d coached before. So early in the season, during a game, I get a tap on my shoulder. I turn around and it?s Fly. He was standing next to his boy Bernard Hardin, who was great college player at New Mexico that had been drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers. He said, ?Hey Butch, you got room for me and Bernard?? I called timeout, told the guys at the end of the bench, ?Give me your shirts guys,? and walked over to the scorer?s table to put Fly?s name in the book.I got phone calls for weeks from people asking me, ?How can you put that crazy guy on your team? How can you do that?? I was a certified drug and alcohol therapist and just told them, ?Hey, I like crazy people. I work with them every day.? Fly had been let go by the Spirits of St. Louis in the ABA and didn?t play pro ball during the ?75-?76 season. He was trying to catch on with an NBA team that summer. With Fly and Bernard, my so-so team became one of the best teams in the Rucker league.We were playing against a really good team from New Jersey toward the end of the season and we needed to win to get into the playoffs. By the end of the third quarter, Fly had 29 points, but he picked up a silly foul. If he got one more, he would be disqualified. We were up by 19 points, so I took him out of the game.He got mad and said, ?Butch, you can?t take me out. This is my last chance to go to the league.? The game was being televised on channel 13. So we start going back and forth. I?m telling him that we need to win the game and he?s telling me not to take him out. I said, ?Look Fly, we?re up by 19. If it goes below 12, I?m gonna put you back in, but I can?t afford for you to foul out.?He started cursing me out and it was so quiet in the park that you could hear a pin drop. And then, he makes the magic statement. He said, ?Butch, if you take me out, I quit!? And everybody in the park went, ?Oooooooh!?I said, ?Fly, give me your shirt. I?m the coach and you?re not gonna be out here upstaging me like that.?He took his shirt off and walked out the park. We wound up losing the game. The next week, he comes back, walks up to me and says, ?Hey Butch, you got my shirt??And I tossed him a jersey and said, ?Here you go.??
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