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Marvin Williams returns to Bremerton
The Marvin Williams Show returned to Bremerton High School in grand style Thursday night.
Flanked by an entourage of friends, family and former teammates, the 22-year-old NBA star stepped on his home floor for the first time since 2004 to celebrate the retiring of No. 24, the jersey he wore for three seasons as a Knight before moving on to the University of North Carolina and the professional ranks.
His legacy was cemented with a halftime ceremony during Bremerton's 51-48 loss against Port Townsend.
Bremerton coach Casey Lindberg, who coached Williams from 2002 to 2004, spoke as the now-retired No. 24 was unveiled, calling Williams "a very impressive person."
"Anyone who knows Marvin knows he's a fantastic individual," Lindberg told the near-capacity crowd. "The thing that impresses me most is Marvin as a person ... He's humble, he's graceful, he's loyal and maybe most importantly, he's selfless."
It's that genuine nature, the affinity he's shown for Bremerton since gaining stardom, that's made Williams not just a talented basketball player but a role model and local icon.
"I want people to understand that it's not just another great basketball player whose jersey we're retiring," Lindberg said in the locker room after the game. "He's without a doubt one of the finest people I know. It was a pleasure and a privilege, really, to be able to stand up there and talk about him tonight."
"I feel so blessed to be a part of that guy's life. He's always been a fantastic person, he's always tried to do the right thing. And it makes it so much easier to do something like that (retire a jersey) for a good guy."
Williams, who was selected No. 2 overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2005 NBA Draft, is the first BHS player to have his jersey retired. In three seasons with the Knights, he averaged 28.7 points per game, including a school record 45 points as a senior.
"It's special, man. I'm almost speechless," Williams said following the festivities. "It's such an honor to have your jersey lifted up like that."
With the NBA's All-Star game this weekend in Phoenix, Williams is in town for a few days before the Hawks (31-21), who are in second place of the Eastern Conference Southeast Division, begin a five-game West Coast road trip that includes a stop in Portland Feb. 20.
"We gotta come ready to play," Williams said. "We've really got to be focused in on what we're doing and try to keep the fourth spot for the playoffs."
As for Thursday's game, Williams said he was impressed with the play of his brother, J'Tonn Dale, his cousin, Andre Coleman, as well as the rest of the team. Dale scored nine points and Coleman 10.
"It was a good game," Williams said. "I'm gonna go home and talk to my brother and cousin. I'm sure they'll be a little upset, but those guys played hard."
In fact, Coleman nearly sent the game into overtime with a fadeaway 3-pointer that went halfway in the hoop before popping out as time expired. The off-balance shot came after Dale tipped the ball toward the 3-point line following a Theo Robinson miss inside three seconds.
"The play was set up for me to be a distraction, (so we) could hit somebody else on the wing," Coleman said. "Theo got a good shot at it and J'Tonn tipped it out to me, but it just didn't fall."
Coleman said he had a few jitters early in the game with such a large crown on hand, but he was able to relax after the initial excitement faded.
"At first, we probably were all nervous because we're not used to all those people being there, Marvin being there and most of our family being there," Coleman said. "Finally, we starting getting loose out there in the second half. It was fun."
The Knights trailed 37-29 midway through the third quarter before taking a 43-38 lead at the six minute mark of the fourth thanks to 14-1 run. Port Townsend then scored six consecutive points to take a 44-43 lead.
The teams exchanged baskets over the final four minutes before two Dakotah Pine free throws put Port Townsend ahead 51-48 with 0:33 remaining. After a timeout, BHS worked the ball around offensively for 20 seconds before calling another timeout at 0:13, setting up the final possession.
"Our kids played really hard and they played well enough to get back in the game," Lindberg said. "We came back and made a game out of it. It was exciting. It was a good game."
At Bremerton 48, Port Townsend 51
Port Townsend 10 18 11 12 — 51
Bremerton 12 9 17 10 — 48
Bremerton—Josh Koets 11, Terrick McGhee 2, Jarell Flora 4, Terrance McGhee 8, Jordan Driskell 2, J’Tonn Dale 9, Andre Coleman 10, Michael Powell, Derek Bennett 2, Rashawn Kendrick, Theo Robinson.
Port Townsend—Dakotah Pine 5, Parker McClelland 13, Vinnie Johnson 13, Elan Solvick 9, Eric Thomas, Walker Wilson 11.