As I walked out of the security exit following the Kings' two-point loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, I noticed assistant coach Corliss Williamson quietly leaving as well. The game was a Sunday afternoon matinee affair and with the sun still shining, Williamson was quickly mobbed by the eager fans waiting to see any players who may come through the doors.
He was more than gracious as he patiently signed autographs and posed for photos. With a smile, he said it is typically dark outside after late games so the mobs aren't usually waiting for him.
Williamson, who was drafted by the Kings in 1995 and played here until 2000 and then again from 2005 to 2007, was kind enough to chat with me for a few minutes as we both walked to our cars about his experience this season as a first-time assistant coach for DeMarcus Cousins.
The "Big Nasty" was an undersized power forward and wasn't the dominant big man Cousins is (his numbers in the 1997-98 season were impressive though at 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game), but he had the same flare and competitive nature that boogie has. Williamson, of course, has plenty of basketball experience that Cousins could glean from considering the fact he won championships at the AAU, NCAA and NBA levels.
Coming in as an assistant coach for DeMarcus Cousins, what was the approach you planned to take at the start of the season?
Coming in, I had seen him play in college, really didn't have a chance to see him play in the pros except for what I saw on film when I got here. I just tried to come in with an open mind, try to get to know him. With any basketball player if anyone is working with you, you've got to build trust with them, so that was my No. 1 goal was for us to learn to trust each other and then just try to offer some advice. He's already talented and skilled, it's just a matter of trying to give some suggestions.
Are there things that you see in him that you saw in yourself as a player?
I like his footwork in the post - that was something I tried to take pride in. But it's totally two different players...he has the height I wish I had (laughs). He's talented and we're just trying to give him some of the tricks of the trade that you learn as a player, different ways to get yourself open or get better position in the post; so those are kind of some of the things I've kind of tried to help him with.
Obviously, everybody talks about his emotions. I noticed in that Houston Rockets game that he got ejected from you were the one who came over to him and sort of separated him from the officials. In that area, are there specific things you have tried to help with?
You just try to talk to him. I mean, anyone when they're emotional or their temper is up and things aren't going well, it's hard to talk to people then so you give them a chance to cool off and then kind of pull them aside and just try to give them a different way of looking at things. Try to look at it from a different perspective, from a different point of view. But, you know, he's been very receptive, not only to me but our whole staff. I mean, everyone takes turns with talking to him, giving him advice. I think we've seen some improvement from him years before until now. Hopefully, he will stay on that same path.
Does he come up to the coaching staff regularly and ask for advice?
Not necessarily, it's more of us telling him things we see. He may ask some questions about what's going on in a game or particular fouls or something he did wrong, but it's just us giving him advice. I don't think too many people come up asking about "how can I control my temper?" I never did and I had a temper too (laughs). You just kind of learn and the good thing about it is that we've got a fairly young staff so we're still able to relate to him and talk to him in probably a different way than maybe an older staff would.
He said at the beginning of the season that he wasn't expecting a lot of wins immediately and that this season was more about showing signs of improvement. Would you agree that he has really bought into the direction of the franchise?
I think so, I believe he has. He wants to win, we all want to win. But we all understand it's a process. I think he's starting to understand that. It not only starts with bringing in new players, different pieces but it starts with the guys we have here now changing the culture and the way we are doing things and I think we have done that. We haven't arrived yet where we want to be, but you've seen the progress in the culture here and hopefully we'll continue that as the season ends and the offseason progresses.