Former NBA player Hot Rod Williams on life support battling cancer

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Screw you, cancer.

John ‘Hot Rod’ Williams, the 13-year NBA center who spent most of his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers (he played in Phoenix and Dallas as well), is on life support battling cancer, reports Terry Pluto at the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Williams is in the intensive care unit of a hospital in the Baton Rouge area. He grew up in nearby Sorrento, La. He always went home after the NBA season…

(His agent Mark) Bartelstein said they thought the health problems started for Williams about six months ago with prostate cancer. But then it spread and spread. He’s 53 and fighting for his life.

“His family is with him,” said Bartelstein, his voice breaking. “It’s a very serious situation.”

Hot Rod was a part of the best Cleveland teams, at least prior to the current edition, the ones that pushed Jordan’s Bulls in the East and featured Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, Craig Ehlo, and others. Williams averaged 11 points and 6.8 rebounds a game over his career, but he was best known as a shot-blocking defender coming off the bench for those Cavaliers teams. He averaged 1.6 blocks a game in his career.

Williams had a fascinating career, one that started in the minor leagues of the day while he went through a point-shaving trial from his days at Tulane. He was fully acquitted of those charges and went on to make a name for himself in the NBA. He also got a seven-year, $26.5 million contract in 1990, a deal that was front-loaded with $5 million in the first year, making him the highest paid NBA player. It was the outrageous contract of the day, and pundits flipped out. Williams just kept right on being a family man and doing his thing on the court.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.