CHARLOTTE- The Hornets kick off another season of basketball on Wednesday evening, and forward Marvin Williams couldn't be happier to be back in the Queen City.
Williams signed a four-year, $54.5 million dollar deal with the Hornets this offseason, and the opportunity to stay in Charlotte means more to him than the price tag.
"It's always a feeling that you'll never forget. I was really excited. I called my parents, called my friends. It's just a blessing, not only to continue to play in the NBA, but to continue to play in a place you want to be," Williams explained.
He played basketball for the University of North Carolina, and he's often referred to Charlotte as his home away from home (in Washington).
"You're liked here, you're appreciated here. And I appreciate the state of North Carolina, I appreciate the Charlotte Hornets organization, and I like playing for Cliff and my teammates," Williams said.
The Hornets forward admitted the Tar Heel fans that still support him make his job even better. He played for North Carolina his freshman year and won a National Championship, and still attributes much of his success to Roy Williams.
"I can never tell you how thankful I am for what Coach Williams has done for me and my family and my life. I feel like he gave me an opportunity to chase a dream by giving me an scholarship to play at North Carolina, and we had a great run there," Williams said.
Williams said he was honored to play under Coach Williams, and he thinks his current coach mirrors the legendary Tar Heel leader.
"He's the most honest and genuine person I've ever met. Cliff is very similar. They're always going to tell you the truth, never necessarily going to tell you what you want to hear, but they look out for your best interests. Not only as a player but as a person," Williams said.
But Wednesday, Williams focus is on his Charlotte team. The Hornets start the season off at Milwaukee with a roster that saw some changes during the offseason.
It's a group that's slightly different from the tight-knight, lighthearted locker room Williams said the Hornets built last year.
"We have quality guys in the locker room, so anytime you have quality people you're always going to have a good locker room. We have guys that want to win. But I'm going to be honest and say that last year was probably the best locker room I've been in in my career. You can't replace an Al Jefferson, the person. You can't replace a Jeremy Lin, the person," Williams explained.
That doesn't mean he doesn't think this year's will be as talented or as tight knit. With the regular season starting Wednesday, Williams says the Hornets are on the right track.
"We've been working hard. We're going to work hard to get back to that position we were in last year and hopefully it's a different outcome this year," Williams said.