A visit from Magic's Pat Williams

Pat Williams, executive vice-president of the Orlando Magic and once voted one of the 50 most influential people in NBA history, visited Jackson and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.He made our day at Hall of Fame. “You’ve got a wonderful place here, a great product,” Williams said after a 45-minute museum visit. “You have a great sports story to tell in Mississippi.”

We certainly do, but Williams, who was in town to speak about leadership to C Spire Wireless associates, is quite a story himself.

How many people do you know who:

* Traded Pete Maravich away and traded for Julius “Dr. J” Erving?
* Have written more than 70 books?
* Is the father of 19, including 14 adopted from four different nations?
* Hosts three different radio shows?
* Earned a Ph.d in Humane Letters after starring as a baseball catcher at Wake Forest and then playing minor league baseball?
* Drafted Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal among others?

There’s more, much more to learn about — and from — Pat Williams, but you get the gist. He is remarkably talented and versatile man who has crammed a whole lot of living into his 72 years on this planet. Oh yes, and did I mention he has run more than 50 marathons.

His message to C Spire associates was about the seven key ingredients every great leader possesses. He quoted coaches from Bear Bryant to Tony Dungy, generals from Napoleon to Colin Powell and political leaders from Winston Churchill to George Bush (both of them).

Williams spoke to folks mostly dressed in business attire and did so dressed, himself, in a Hawaiian shirt.

“Have you ever seen an unhappy person wearing a Hawaiian shirt?” he said, chuckling.

He spoke about vision, character, communication skills and people skills.

As for communication skills he quoted the late New York Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard and he did so, sounding very much like Sheppard himself: “Be clear, be concise, be correct.”

And I will tell you this, as he described the traits of a great leader, I kept thinking this: The person he is describing is Boo Ferriss.

Turns out (as I found out during his museum tour) Pat Williams knew all about Boo Ferriss and in fact considers himself a big fan of Mississippi’s all-time baseball legend.

I was not surprised.

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