Former Cavalier center John 'Hot Rod' Williams dies at 53

Ball Don't Lie
Former Cavalier center John 'Hot Rod' Williams dies at 53
Former Cavalier center John 'Hot Rod' Williams dies at 53

John “Hot Rod” Williams, a former NBA defensive stalwart at center who had been battling cancer, passed away on Friday. He was 53.

From Windhorst’s report:

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"Hot Rod was a great, caring and unselfish teammate," said Danny Ferry, who was a teammate for six seasons. "He was a team-first guy. He was also a valuable, intelligent and very underrated player. He could defend anyone. We were all lucky to have him as a teammate and friend."

Williams was the defensive anchor for several good-to-great Cleveland Cavaliers teams. Either as a reserve or replacement for big men Brad Daugherty or Larry Nance, the 6-foot-10 Tulane product provided menace and muscle for Cavs squads that were misfortunate to be at their peak during a time when Isiah Thomas’ Pistons and Michael Jordan’s Bulls ruled the Eastern Conference.

Hot Rod famously inked one of the NBA’s most lucrative contracts in 1989 when the Cavs matched a seven-year, $26.5 million deal that the fledgling Miami Heat offered him. Never an All-Star, the deal made him one of professional sports’ highest-paid players, which spoke to the depth of his role on the Cavaliers roster. He would stick with the franchise until it dealt him to Phoenix for All-Star Dan Majerle in 1995.

Williams reportedly was diagnosed with prostate cancer over the summer, and his conditioned worsened so much over the last few weeks that he was placed on life support over the weekend.

The center averaged 11 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 27 minutes a game during a 13-year NBA career.

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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