PBA: Kelly Williams, 2008 MVP and two-time Comeback Player of the Year, retires

Published September 7, 2020, 4:52 PM

by Jonas Terrado

The Machine Gun signing off, says Williams
Kelly Williams hangs it up after 13 PBA seasons. (PBA Images)

TNT KaTropa’s Kelly Williams on Monday announced his retirement after 13 PBA seasons highlighted not only by championships and individual accomplishments but also for his ability to overcome health problems, injuries and age.

The 38-year-old Williams took to social media to reflect on a career that became possible after the Fil-American accepted the of then-coach Chot Reyes to try out for the national team.

“It’s with gladness (and) sadness that I announce my retirement from basketball. I couldn’t have predicted that I’d have the kind of career I was able to experience,” Williams said.

“Thank you Philippines for giving me solid ground to grow as both a player and a man for the last 15 years. Thank you PBA for giving me access to your stage for 14 seasons and to the great fans who supported me during my time. 

“I gave my all when I put Pilipinas and my teams on my chest and I hope you felt that,” added Williams, who was supposed to suit up for his 14th pro campaign but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the PBA to suspend its season.

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It’s with gladness & sadness that I announce my retirement from basketball. I couldn’t have predicted that I’d have the kind of career I was able to experience. Thank you Philippines for giving me solid ground to grow as both a player and a man for the last 15 years. Thank you PBA for giving me access to your stage for 14 seasons and to the great fans who supported me during my time. I gave my all when I put Pilipinas and my teams on my chest and I hope you felt that. Thank you SLR for giving me freedom to be me. Coach Boyet, Boss Buddy, mgmnt, Atty Magno, coaches, utility and all my teammates. It’s because of you that I’m in the All-time 40 and I’m forever grateful! Thank you TNT for extending my career. To the coaches & teammates who lifted me up time & time again. I know it wasn’t easy. Thank you?? I love you guys. Wheyking Fam and Anytime Eastwood, thank you for supporting my fitness journey over the years! Fam & friends your unconditional love and support gave me strength to keep pushing, Tina, Jay (too many to say but you know exactly who you are). Did I make you proud, mama? I believe daddy is smiling down on me❤️ Uncle Jonas & Enrico thank you for looking out for me, making calls, making sure I took a look at the Philippines ?? Coach Chot, can’t thank you enough for placing your bet on a skinny no-name kid from Detroit back in 05. I am indebted to you. Thank you, Alex Compton, for having my back and making sure my career got off on the right foot. And everyone else (too many to name) who made either my life or my career better with the space you held within my journey. Thank you?? To ?, thank you for being a safe haven to a young lost kid & bringing meaning to my life EVERY YEAR since 1991. Forever grateful. I turn the final page of this chapter and I fear not. I did the best I could with what I had, now I can lay my career to rest with peace in my heart. Now I can be nearer to my sons. The Machine Gun signing off. 21 gun salute ??

A post shared by Kelly Williams (@kxlwilliams21) on

Williams won six championships with Sta. Lucia and TNT and won Most Valuable Player honors in 2008. He also represented the Philippines in the 2007 and 2011 FIBA Asia Championship.

But Williams will probably be best remembered for bagging two Comeback of the Year honors, joining Bong Alvarez as the only multi-time winners of the award handed by the PBA Press Corps.

Williams won his first in 2010 when he was able to get back into form after dealing with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, a rare blood disorder, that forced him to miss the remainder of the 2008-09 campaign.

His second Comeback Player of the Year was in 2017 when Williams was named to the Mythical Second Team for the fourth and final time.

The award came after contemplating on retiring in 2013 due to his blood disorder. Williams also teared his MCL in 2015 while training with Gilas Pilipinas.

After playing for Magnolia in the now-defunct Philippine Basketball League and suiting up for the Philippines in several pocket tournaments, Williams was selected as the top pick by Sta. Lucia in the 2006 PBA Draft.

Williams immediately made an impact with his athleticism and high-flying act, averaging 17.3 points and 9.6 rebounds in 45 games on his way to winning Rookie of the Year honors in 2007.

The following year, Williams led the Realtors to their second and last PBA championship by beating Purefoods in a hard-fought Philippine Cup Finals that went the full seven games.

Kelly Williams won his only PBA Most Valuable Player in 2008, the same year he led Sta. Lucia to the Philippine Cup crown. (PBA Images)

He won the Best Player of the Conference award during that run before ending the 2008 campaign as the season MVP with averages of 18.2 points and 10.7 rebounds in 53 games with the Realtors.

Williams reunited with Reyes to join a star-studded TNT lineup through a midseason trade in 2010, beginning a run that would see the Tropang Texters chase history.

TNT, with Williams joining forces with Jimmy Alapag, Jayson Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo, Ryan Reyes, Harvey Carey, Larry Fonacier, Ali Peek and Jared Dillinger, nearly won the historic Grand Slam after winning the Philippine Cup and Commissioner’s Cup in 2011.

TNT’s Kelly Williams scores a dunk over Meralco’s Gabby Espinas in 2011. (PBA Images)

The Tropang Texters failed to claim the third jewel after losing to the Petron Blaze Boosters in the 2011 PBA Governors’ Cup, but continued their dominance in the Philippine Cup by repeating in 2012 and 2013 (under Norman Black).

His other accomplishments were his last PBA title with TNT in the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup, three Mythical First Team selections, membership in the All-Defensive Team in 2008, five All-Star Game selections and two Slam Dunk contest victories.

“I turn the final page of this chapter and I fear not. I did the best I could with what I had, now I can lay my career to rest with peace in my heart. Now I can be nearer to my sons,” he said.

“The Machine Gun signing off,” Williams added.

 
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