News item: Bullets forward John "Hot Lunch" Williams is missing.
No one has seen Williams in months, and folks are starting to worry. At last sighting, Williams was at home in L.A., sitting in a hot tub filled with guacamole and sour cream and asking if anyone knew where you could buy a really big tortilla. Tragically, those are the last words anyone has heard him say.
The Bullets, who are frantic, have suffered through more than a few scares. Just recently, it was reported in Los Angeles that a radio-controlled plane had crashed into a large, immobile object. Imagine the relief in the Bullets offices when the object turned out to be the Goodyear blimp.
How do you misplace John Williams? It's like losing track of the Chrysler Building. He's 6 feet 9 and 300-odd (and getting odder every day) pounds. Before disappearing -- if a guy this size drops out of sight, shouldn't there at least be a tell-tale crater? -- Williams, listed at 235, was a wonderful basketball player. Now, if he ever shows up at training camp, the Bullets can either find a place for him in the lineup or enter him as a float in the Rose Bowl parade.
Yes, he's big. How big? Williams is bigger than Roger Clemens' mouth. Just to give you an idea of the breadth and scope of his appetite, Williams was apparently the only person in America able to swallow whole the administration's budget proposal.
The problem began last December, when Williams, the all-purpose player, hurt his knee, wrecking the Bullets' season in the process. During the recovery period, Williams was unable to run, but, as luck would have it, he was able to eat, thereby allowing calorie after calorie to accumulate unburned.
The Bullets encouraged him to do some weight training in his rehabilitation. They should have been more specific as to what kind of weight they meant. Of course, who could have guessed that when choosing a role model on the team, Williams would bypass Bernard King in favor of Mel Turpin?
Actually, the Bullets should have known something was up. When they told Williams he should report to them when he was ready to resume dunking, he asked, "Should I use glazed doughnuts or jelly?"
According to reports, Williams has been fined $200,000 for not taking care of himself. This is a lot of money, not to mention how it figures out in Big Macs with fries. You have to like a job, though, where somebody fines you $200,000 and they still owe you money.
Overeating is, like everything else now in our society, an addiction that is probably rooted either in genetics or in a traumatic early-life experience with Coco Puffs. It is not nice to make fun of overweight people, unless they're athletes, who, after all, have to be seen naked in locker rooms. Then, it is not only all right to make fun of them, but expected.
Of course, we could have it all wrong. If the Bullets haven't seen Williams, how can they properly assess his condition? For all they know, he might have spent the last few months in the George Foreman Clinic for the terminally famished. They let you out when you can pass a buffet table without getting whiplash.
In any case, it's the usual mess for the Bullets. They've got one player (Ledell Eackles) they can't get to the table and another (Williams) they can't keep away. Holdout Eackles was expected to take the place of Jeff Malone (the second all-star Malone they've traded; if only they could get Karl). All Eackles wants is $8 million over four years, and you wonder why the Bullets are balking.
Newcomer Pervis Ellison will now probably have to replace Williams, mighty big shorts to fill. If you detect any improvement in the Bullets' situation, you're probably the same guy who keeps seeing Elvis at the Safeway.
While the rest of the NBA prospers, the Bullets remain mired in a deep and enduring depression. Their best player, Bernard King, is 33 and talking about moving on after this season. Their next best player, John Williams, is probably 333, and, if he was plopped down in the middle of Capital Centre tomorrow, he couldn't move anywhere unless it was with a crane.
Right now, the Bullets have rookie A.J. English at one guard and Charles Jones at center. Meaning: Don't bother saving up for playoff tickets.
Meanwhile, everyone is looking for Williams. (Hint: Follow the trail of Domino's delivery cars.) Even Agent Cooper is on the case. One thing, when they say Williams is at large, they're not kidding. He's at extra large.
If you see him, please call the Bullets. Or at least call Williams' mom, who must be worried to death. She could tell you -- hum along, please -- about the way he looks, the way he acts and the color of his hair. His voice was soft and clear, his eyes were cool and bright, but he's not there.