TRIBUTES and outpouring of support were expressed the moment Kelly Williams made the surprise announcement of his PBA retirement.
Teammates and foes alike recognized the great career the 38-year-old Williams had in 14 seasons of playing in Asia's first ever play-for-pay league.
The soft-spoken Fil-Am announced his retirement on social media on Monday.
Former Talk 'N Text teammates Jimmy Alapag, Bobby Ray Parks, Jared Dillinger, and Anthony Semerad along with Terrence Romeo, Joe Devance, Mark Caguioa, Chris Newsome, Sol Mercado, Gabe Norwood, Chris Tiu, Rafi Reavis, Jericho Cruz, and even Magnolia import Romeo Travis were just some of the players who wished the 6-foot-6 power forward well as he takes a new chapter in his life.
"Thankful we had a chance to go to battle together in the PBA and the national team," said Alapag, now head coach of Alab Pilipinas in the ASEAN Basketball League. "Picked up some rings along the way, too."
Dillinger had a short but nice words, too about 'Machine Gun Kelly.'
"Prime Kelly was a problem," stressed the veteran Barangay Ginebra big guard.
Caguioa, meanwhile, tried to make things a little bit light by reminding Williams about once dunking over Barangay Ginebra teammate Devance.
"Btw, can you pls post the one when u dunked on JDV38," said Caguioa in his post accompanied by three laughing emojis.
But seriously, the former MVP said he's sad and happy about another great player retiring.
"I'm glad I got to play with you on the national team," said Caguioa. "Even though we didn't qualify, I've always had those great memories playing with you."
Williams was a former no. 1 pick in the 2006 draft by Sta. Lucia who was Rookie of the Year in 2007 and an MVP a season after.
He won a total of six championships, one with the Realtors and the five others with Talk 'N Text, where he spent the last 10 years of his career.
The Detroit native was also a three-time Mythical First Team, a five-time All-Star, a two-time slam dunk champion, a two-time Comeback Player of the Year by the PBA Press Corps, and one of the 40 PBA Greatest Players of all time.
A rare blood disorder discovered in 2009 temporarily set back his career, but he returned an improved and much better player.
He also suited up for the national team several times, including his first in 2007 during the FIBA Asia Men's Championship in Tokushima, Japan under coach Chot Reyes, the person responsible for convincing Williams to cover over and play here in the country.
Williams didn't fail to thank Reyes for giving him such opportunity.
"Coach Chot, can't thank you enough for placing your bet on a skinny no-name kid from Detroit back in 2005. I am indebted to you," said Williams.
The feeling was mutual.
"Neither of us knew on that day in 2005 what a great career you would have," Reyes replied.
"But I was sure of one thing - I had to bring you to the Philippines." (RG)