Williams on leave at NBC Sports
Wednesday, February 27, 2002
TRENTON, N.J. -- Jayson Williams is out for now as an NBA analyst for NBC Sports.
The former NBA All-Star has been charged with second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of a limousine driver. Williams surrendered to authorities Monday and is free on $250,000 bail.
"NBC Sports and Jayson Williams have reached mutual agreement that it's best for Jayson to focus on his personal issues and to not be on the air until those issues are resolved," the network said Tuesday.
The case against Williams probably will not be resolved quickly. A prosecutor said he does not expect to present the case to a Hunterdon County grand jury for several months.
In his first season with NBC, Williams is known for his humorous style. He had been scheduled to appear on the network Sunday.
Marv Albert, NBC's lead NBA play-by-play announcer, was fired by the network within hours of pleading guilty to assault and battery in September 1997. He had continued to work for NBC after being indicted that May. Albert returned to NBC in 1999.
Recklessness is the claim
Acting county prosecutor Steven C. Lember planned to argue that Williams recklessly handled the shotgun that killed Costas Christofi, 55, of Washington Borough.
Williams' lawyer, Joseph Hayden, has called the shooting "a tragic accident," and said the facts of the case would make it clear that Williams was innocent of recklessness or any criminal conduct.
An arraignment is scheduled for Monday.
It's not the first time Williams has been accused of handling a gun recklessly. He was charged with reckless endangerment and possession of a weapon in 1994 after shots were fired at an unoccupied security vehicle outside the Nets' arena in the East Rutherford.
Williams never admitted firing the .40-caliber handgun at the truck.
He spent the next year preaching gun safety to high school students and placing advertisements in The Record of Hackensack as part of a pretrial intervention program that helped him avoid a felony conviction.