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White Chocolate and the B.T. Express: 30 Years of Heat

Jason Williams and Billy Thompson represent in today’s countdown feature.

Miami Heat v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

26. Jason Williams

Jason Williams, born November 18th, 1975 in Belle, WV, was a 6'1" point guard with Dupont High in his hometown. One of his teammates was future NFL wide receiver Randy Moss. Williams was recruited heavily by Rick Barnes to play for Providence College, but Williams changed his mind when Barnes left to coach the Clemson Tigers. He played his first college season for Billy Donovan at Marshall, scoring 13.4 points with 6.4 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game. When Donovan accepted the head coaching position with the Florida Gators, Williams followed him, electing to sit out a year of eligibility (as per NCAA rules) just to play another season for his coach. When his play resumed, Williams averaged 17 points, seven assists, and three rebounds per game before getting suspended for repeated marijuana infractions.

Despite Williams’ cannabis driven proclivities, the Sacramento Kingsselected him in the first round of the 1998 draft, seventh overall. Williams played three seasons with the Kings (208 games), averaging 11.3 points, 6.3 assists, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game. During the 2001 offseason, the Kings traded him with Nick Anderson to the Vancouver Grizzlies for Mike Bibby and Brent Price. He played four seasons after the team moved to Memphis (284 games), and averaged 11.9 points, 7.2 assists, 2.4 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. The Heat acquired him as part of a five-team, 13-player deal that also netted them James Posey for Eddie Jones.

Williams first season in Miami was 2005-06, when he averaged 12.3 points (team third) on 44.2% field goal shooting. He started in 56 of his 59 appearances for 31.8 minutes per game (team second), averaging 4.9 assists (team second) and 2.4 rebounds. He also shot 37.2% from deep (team third). Miami posted a 38-21 record in his appearances, as he scored in double figures 37 times (62.7%). On November 25th, he shot 11-of-20 from the field, scoring 24 points with six rebounds and five assists in a 103-90 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. In a 119-99 victory over the Kings, he scored 19 points with 11 assists, four rebounds and three steals. He scored 21 points (four on three pointers) with nine assists, six rebounds and three steals on March 19th, in a 111-100 win against the New York Knicks. The Heat went 52-30 before making their way through the playoffs in 23 games, winning their first NBA title. Williams started in each of Miami's postseason matchups. His best game came in game six of the Eastern Conference finals, when the Heat eliminated the Detroit Pistons. Williams shot 10-for-12, scoring 21 points with six assists as the Heat won, 95-78.

In 2006-07, Williams, also known as "White Chocolate," started 55 times out of 61 total appearances. His scoring average dropped to 10.9 (team third), shooting 33.9% from three-point distance while his assists per game rose to 5.3 (team second) in 30.6 minutes (team third) per game. He also grabbed 2.3 rebounds with one steal per game (team third), and shot 41.3% from the field. With Williams in the rotation, Miami went 34-27. He scored 10 or more points 33 times, and had four double doubles. On December 2nd, in a 98-97 win against the Grizzlies, he scored 13 points with 14 assists and five rebounds. He scored a season high 28 points on December 27th, going seven-for-10 from three-point range and tacking on six dimes and three boards in a loss to the Bulls, 109-103. On January 22nd, he scored 20 points with seven assists, three steals and three rebounds in a 101-83 win against the Knicks. He scored 21 points with eight assists and four rebounds on March 21st, in a 91-83 win over the Atlanta Hawks. Miami went 44-38 on the season before getting swept out of the opening round by the Bulls in four games. Williams scored 23 points with 14 assists and eight rebounds in total.

2007-08 would see Williams start in 53 of his 67 overall appearances, averaging 28.1 minutes and scoring 8.8 points with 4.6 assists, 1.9 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game. He shot 38.4% from the field and 35.3% from three point distance. He finished in double digits 25 times and the Heat went 12-55 in his appearances. On November 9th, in a 106-101 setback at the hands of the Phoenix Suns, he scored 21 points with 10 assists, five rebounds and four steals. On March 14th, he scored a season high 34 points with seven assists and six rebounds in a 103-94 loss to the Orlando Magic. In a 112-106 win against the Milwaukee Bucks on March 18th, he scored 21 points with 10 assists and three rebounds. Miami finished with a franchise record worst tying 15-67 record. Instead of reupping with the Heat, Williams opted instead to sign a one year deal with the Los Angeles Clippers. Before he ever suited up, he opted to retire due to persistent injuries.

After one season out of basketball, Williams played parts of two seasons with the Magic (98 games). He closed his NBA career back with the Memphis Grizzlies (11 games). He ranks second all-time on the Grizzlies leaderboard with 2,069 assists.

Stat Line: 187 games, 30.1 minutes, .414 field goals, .354 three-pointers, .883 free throws, 10.6 points, 4.9 assists, 2.2 rebounds, 1.0 steals, 14.2 PER, 11.2 Win Shares.

Cumulative GameScore: 1790.7

25. Billy Thompson

Billy Thompson, born December 1st, 1963, was a 6'7" power forward from Camden, NJ, where he also attended high school. He was selected as a McDonald's All American in 1982. He then joined the University of Louisville Cardinals for four seasons of collegiate basketball. Over his last two seasons, he averaged 15 points, eight rebounds, and four assists per game. The Atlanta Hawks selected him in the first round of the 1986 NBA Draft with the 19th overall pick. Immediately afterward, he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Thompson played his first two professional seasons with the Lakers, appearing in 68 games and helping the team to the 1987 NBA Championship. The Lakers left him unprotected in the expansion draft, where the Heat picked him up. He signed for two years and $997,500.

Thompson appeared in 79 games, starting 58 times at small forward for the 1988-89 Heat. He shot 48.7% in 28.8 minutes per game. He averaged 10.8 points (team fifth), and 2.2 assists per appearance, leading the team with 7.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. The "BT Express" scored 10 or more points 44 times with 13 double doubles. In a 121-110 loss to the Denver Nuggets on December 9th, he scored 22 points with 11 rebounds and four blocks in 34 minutes. He shot 11-for-15, scoring a season and game high 30 points with 16 rebounds on January 30th, in a 105-98 loss to the Golden State Warriors. On March 27th, in a 100-79 win over the New Jersey Nets, he scored 17 points with 14 rebounds. Miami posted a 15-67 record.

1989-90 would see Thompson start in 45 of his 79 games, spending 27.1 minutes on the floor and scoring 11 points (team fifth), grabbing seven rebounds (team second), dishing out two assists (team fourth), and blocking one shot (team second) per game. He finished in double digits 27 times with 13 double doubles. On November 29th, in a 105-100 loss to the Minnesota TimberWolves, he had a 13-for-18 night, scoring 28 points with 15 rebounds, five assists and four blocks. He scored 29 points with 16 rebounds, six assists and four steals on April 4th, as the Heat lost 128-114 to the Golden State Warriors. On April 20th, in a 117-112 win against the Washington Bullets, He scored 18 points with eight rebounds and seven assists. Miami improved to 18-64.

In 1990-91 he appeared 73 times, starting 46 times. He played 20.3 minutes, scored 6.8 points with 4.3 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game. He shot 49.9% from the floor. He had three double doubles, and scored 10 or more points 23 times. On January 8th, he scored 14 points with 13 rebounds in a win against the Sacramento Kings, 95-83. In a 104-102 triumph over the Orlando Magic on January 15th, he scored 18 points with 10 rebounds and three assists. The Heat finished at 24-58.

Miami released Thompson after the season. He signed with the Milwaukee Bucks before 1991's training camp, but failed to make the opening day roster. On March 4th, 1992, he signed a 10-day contract with the Warriors. He played one minute of one game. He later played with the Rapid City Thrillers (CBA), the San Miguel Beermen (PBA), Fenerbahce (Turkey), Hapoel Jerusalem (Israel), and Penarol de Mar del Plata (Argentina).

Stat Line: 231 games, 25.5 minutes, .501 field goals, .675 free throws, 9.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.0 blocks, 0.6 steals, 13.3 PER, 8.1 Win Shares.

Cumulative GameScore: 1798.0