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Rookie Already Has Flashy Nickname

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The rookie with the most flair has a nickname to match.

Jason Williams of the Sacramento Kings has been dubbed “White Chocolate"--one of the most colorful nicknames to come along in a while.

His agent, Bill Pollack, doesn’t seem to particularly like the nickname, although Williams himself seems ambivalent.

“You can call me whatever you want to call me, it doesn’t bother me, All I do is go out and play ball,” Williams said Wednesday night before stunning the crowd in Philadelphia with a ballhandling move unseen in the league since the days of Pete Maravich.

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Williams’ agent is not enthralled with the name “White Chocolate” because of its racial undertones. Williams is white, and his style of play has been described as having soul.

The nickname was coined by Stephanie Shepard of the Sacramento Kings’ public relations staff.

Some of Williams’ teammates have taken to calling him “White Shadow,” and Chris Webber was particularly amused at a road game in Minneapolis when someone called him “White Cocoa.”

Williams has had other nicknames in the past.

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“My freshman year they called me ‘Duck’ because my feet were real flat, and then they called me ‘Showtime’ at Florida,” Williams said.

Williams has run into some stiff competition on the Kings’ current road trip, failing to hold his own against Stephon Marbury and Allen Iverson. An extraordinary ballhandler with great range on his 3-point shot, Williams nonetheless is a below-average defender and needs work on finishing his drives into the lane.

Still, his uncommon flair had made him the most talked-about rookie of this young season.

Kings beat writer Martin McNeal of the Sacramento Bee said there has been one point in each road game when Williams has thrilled the crowd with an electrifying move.

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Williams said he patterns his game after all the best NBA players, not just one or two of them.

“I don’t know if I’ve had a favorite. I liked to watch all of them,” he said. “If I see a move he does, I want to copy it--or not copy it but practice it until I can do it. That’s the way I was with not just point guards, but all players. If they are supposedly the best players in the world, why not learn from them?”

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BRANDON AND BUCKS: The Milwaukee Bucks are trying to figure out what to do about Terrell Brandon, who will become a free agent this summer and refuses to commit to a contract extension.

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Brandon has heard that the Bucks have been shopping him around.

“I have an inside suspicion [I’ll be traded], although no one upstairs has ever told me that if you don’t re-sign you’re going to be traded,” Brandon said. “I’ve talked about being a free agent, and my desire is still to be a free agent--no matter what team I go to.

“And because of that, the organization has to protect themselves. If they trade me, it’s not because of anything negative within the team.”

Milwaukee coach George Karl said Brandon has been the best player this season for the Bucks, who entered the weekend with a 6-3 record good for second place in the Central Division.

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Sen. Herb Kohl, the team owner, has asked Brandon’s agent what it would take to get an extension done.

The reply was that nothing can be done. Brandon has his heart set on playing the free agent market this summer.

Brandon, whose 1998-99 salary is $7 million, is tough to trade because he is known as a base-year compensation player, meaning the Bucks could receive only $3,1 million in salary in return if they choose to trade him before the March 11 deadline.

“I’ll play anywhere. It doesn’t matter. As long as I’m still in the NBA I’ll play for any team that wants me,” Brandon said. “It’s nice to be wanted, nice to hear rumors and those types of things, and I look at it as flattering rather than disrespect.

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“I’ve already been traded before, so I have plenty of mental stability, and mental toughness to handle it.”


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