Marvin comes home

Bremerton native Marvin Williams warms up before the start of his Atlanta Hawks’ Feb. 10 99-91 loss against the Seattle SuperSonics. Williams scored four points with nine rebounds and two blocks in his homecoming. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Bremerton native Marvin Williams warms up before the start of his Atlanta Hawks’ Feb. 10 99-91 loss against the Seattle SuperSonics. Williams scored four points with nine rebounds and two blocks in his homecoming.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

Marvin Williams’ home games have moved from Bremerton to Chapel Hill to Atlanta in the past two years.

When the 19-year-old hoops phenom set foot on the court at Key Arena in Seattle Friday, the location and the atmosphere made Williams feel more at home than he had in some time.

“It feels good,” Williams said following his Atlanta Hawks’ morning shoot-around. “It’s always good to come home.”

All across the grounds of the Seattle Center during the afternoon hours leading up to tip-off between the Hawks and the Seattle SuperSonics, North Carolina and Atlanta No. 24 jerseys could be sighted, as Williams’ supporters made the trek en masse from Bremerton to the Key to see Marvin do what he does best at the highest level of the game.

“He’s just a great kid and it’s good to be able to see him,” said Jim Sevier, who came to the game with his stepson John Jacobsen, sporting the Marvin Williams Hawks jersey, and Brittany Lang, who went a little old-school with the Marvin as Tar Heel look. “(John) used to play Pee Wee basketball with him at home when they were boys. (Marvin’s) a good kid and he’s got two good brothers, too.”

Williams’ brother, Demetrius Gittens, is in a little bit of trouble with the family’s eldest, though.

When asked if he has heard from Gittens about his senior season with the Bremerton High hoops squad, Williams replied, “I’m upset with him right now. Whenever I call him, he never calls me back ... but I’m gonna see him tonight.”

Typical for Williams, his “upset” tone left the impression he was going to “punish” his sibling with a warm hug following the contest.

There were plenty of hand slaps, chest bumps and hugs to go around as Williams estimated he had acquired 40 to 45 tickets for the game while others had picked some up without his help.

“It’s all close family and friends,” he said. “(There were) no really random people calling me at the last minute.”

While he may not have been mobbed for tickets, Williams does find it tougher to get around his hometown when he returns. After his first trip back from Carolina, he learned an important lesson.

“When I was in school, I never told people when I was coming home,” Williams said. “I just show up.”

The transition from college to the NBA hasn’t been so bad, to hear Williams tell it.

“(Life) is no different than it was before, except no class,” he said. “I didn’t think the traveling would be this bad. It gets to you after a while.”

Williams has not played as many minutes as he might have grown accustomed to in high school and college, but he is not the sort to get upset about it.

“I’m very thankful for the 20 minutes I get to play,” he said. Williams pointed out that there are hundreds of players in the league that crave that much playing time.

Hawks coach Mike Woodson feels Williams is where he should be in his development and any comparisons to top pick Andrew Bogut or even All-Star LeBron James aren’t really fair at this point.

“His upside is gonna be tremendous because he can do a little bit of everything. He’s right on pace,” Woodson said. “We’ve gotta bring him along slowly (but) there’s no question that he’s improved since we started camp. He’s very coachable.”

Woodson said he is confident Williams can be a starter at the small forward spot. He has played both forward positions for Atlanta this season behind Al Harrington in a contract year and Josh Smith, the reigning slam dunk champion.

The coach also said whether a player will admit it or not, playing for the friends and family is a big deal.

“Man, that was the greatest thrill coming back home,” he said.

Williams got a solid cheer at the Key when he first took the floor midway through the first quarter. The rookie drew a tough defensive assignment in Sonic All-Star Rashard Lewis, who promptly took him to

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