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Clippers’ Lou Williams credits Allen Iverson, says he would’ve been done if he didn’t embrace bench role

Lou Williams, Allen Iverson

Lou Williams has done much more than climb up the scoring ranks to become the NBA’s all-time leading bench scorer, but he has helped set a precedent that being a bench player is no longer a sign of not being good enough to crack a starting spot. The LA Clippers guard has harnessed his role over time, one he first had to take with Hall of Famer Allen Iverson ahead of him on the depth chart:

“[Iverson] was the reason I ended up coming off the bench,” Williams told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. “When he came back to Philly, I was in a really good run and I ended up getting hurt when he came in. He got the starting spot. That kind of solidified me as a role player. But for him, he’s a Hall of Fame guy, an MVP-caliber guy, I wouldn’t expect him to accept a bench role like that.”

Williams initially had to be a spark plug behind Iverson, who led the league in minutes per game for an NBA-record seven seasons. After Iverson’s departure to the Denver Nuggets and consequent return after failed stints in Detroit and Memphis, Lou Will’s untimely injury had him once again watching from the sidelines and resuming the season as a backup, with Iverson getting his swan song in the City of Brotherly Love.

Yet Williams has fully embraced the importance of being part of the second unit and the task that comes with it, which is something that ultimately saved his career as an NBA pro:

“I probably would have been done, to be honest with you, if I didn’t accept a reserve role,” said Williams. “I would have been done because I would have been chasing something for someone else that probably wasn’t for me. I had to embrace what was for me and my career and go get it.”

Only 30 players are guaranteed a starting point guard spot in the league. Due to his height at 6-foot-1, playing a full-time role as a shooting guard was a mirage he was able to watch the 6-foot Iverson accomplish throughout the bulk of his career.

Thanks to his acceptance of that role, Lou Williams has now carved a rather unique place in the pantheon of reserve players.