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Getting to Know ... Brandon Williams

Photo: Andrew McMurtrie. Brandon Williams has been the majority owner and general manager of the Gwinnett Majic since he purchased the team in the spring of 2009.

Photo: Andrew McMurtrie. Brandon Williams has been the majority owner and general manager of the Gwinnett Majic since he purchased the team in the spring of 2009.

Brandon Williams, 38, is in his third-year as owner/general manager of the World Basketball Association's Gwinnett Majic, a minor league hoops team.

Williams is a 1991 Tucker grad and works full-time for a cellphone provider. He and his wife Carolyn have two children, Jake and Sarah.

In this latest installment of "Getting to Know ...," staff writer Brandon Brigman talks to Williams about owning the Majic, his playing days and his first and only time surfing.

BB: First off, what is the WBA?

BW: The WBA is the World Basketball Association, but it's more of an exposure professional league. A lot of guys play in our league to stay in shape before they go overseas or some guys will play in our league to get some film for a scout to find him. I think last year we had two guys go play overseas and they had never played overseas before and a lot of it had to do with our team. We had some guys like (Dacula grad) B.J. (Puckett) and (Berkmar grad) Wayne Arnold, pretty big names in Gwinnett County, they come home and play in our league to stay in shape. If I were to compare it to baseball, it would be like AA.

BB: Were you responsible for changing the team name from Buford Majic to Gwinnett Majic?

BW: Yeah. It was just a little bit broader scope. A lot of people didn't know where Buford was, this just kind of gives it more name recognition.

BB: With the team based in Gwinnett, did it seem natural to fill the roster with Gwinnett talent?

BW: The team was already in place. I was an assistant coach the first year in 2008. It was more just of people I knew in Gwinnett County. That was the easy part. There's so much talent here in Gwinnett.

BB: As the owner, have you ever done any crazy antics to attract fans like in the Will Ferrell movie "Semi-Pro"?

BW: No. We're going to do some fan interaction. Stuff like a raffle to play horse with one of the players at halftime.

BB: Did you grow up playing basketball?

BW: Yeah, I played in high school. I started doing camps about seven years ago, so I've always really had a passion for it. I played in high school, didn't play in college, but I just started coaching and I had a passion for it.

BB: What kind of player were you in high school?

BW: We went to the state playoffs in high school. I started in middle school, but once I got to high school I didn't play much. I was more of a role player. I got a little bit better as I got older, but it was kind of too late then.

BB: Do you still play now?

BW: Yeah, I'll play with the guys every once in a while. I can still get out there and play a little.

BB: At what age did you get your first dunk?

BW: I could dunk in high school, in the 11th grade. I actually dunked a few years ago. I think I was 35 or 36. I haven't tried since then.

BB: Any difference from that first dunk to the last?

BW: Uhhh, yeah. I was sore after the one I did a couple of years ago. I decided not to do it anymore. I shoot more now. I played the four in high school, but when I play now I'm more of a shooter. It's not enough where I can get out there and run with these guys. They are in a different shape than I am.

BB: Who is your favorite NBA player to watch?

BW: This is going to sound weird, but I'm not that big of an NBA fan. I'm more college. North Carolina is my favorite team. I would have to say any of the Carolina guys. Pretty much anybody that plays in the NBA from North Carolina I like. There's a few different guys I like. (Dirk) Nowitzki, (Derrick) Rose, guys like that.

BB: Have you ever been to UNC for a game?

BW: Yeah, I go to the Carolina basketball camp every year. Roy Williams has a coaching clinic they do every year, so I've been going there for like five or six years. You go to their practice and then the next day all the coaches talk about different things.

BB: How did you become a North Carolina fan?

BW: My grandparents are from North Carolina and that's where my dad is from. I started liking them in '83 when (Michael) Jordan hit that game-winning shot against Georgetown. That was when I started watching North Carolina.

BB: If you ever saw a stranded Duke fan on the side of the road, would you keep driving?

BW: Ummm, probably five years ago I would have, but now I think I have a little bit bigger of a heart. I have respect for Duke, believe it or not. It's hard. They are our biggest rival, but I still respect Coach K and stuff. He's a good coach.

BB: What do you like to do outside of basketball?

BW: Right now? Nothing. Pretty much basketball is my life right now. That's part of the problem. I like to travel and go on vacation. If I had my choice, I would probably be traveling.

BB: Where's your favorite travel spot?

BW: A friend of mine lives in New Zealand and I went to Auckland. I got to go over there for three weeks and to Australia. It's really a laid back country. There's not a rat race. Everyone is kind of chill. They've got kegs in the office, if that gives you an idea.

BB: What was the coolest thing you did over there?

BW: Banzai Beach in Australia was cool. It's a big surfer beach. They were just getting prepared for the Olympics. It was kind of like us in '96. I was there about six months before the Olympics got there.

BB: Are you a surfer?

BW: No. I tried once. It didn't go too well. I guess if I lived there I would probably try it.

BB: What happened?

BW: A friend of mine lives in San Diego. I went out there on spring break. I had on the wet suit, the whole nine yards. First of all, it took me almost a day to even get out. You had to catch under the waves and get out there. He said not to pick that one, but I did. I remember the surf board hit me in the head and I think I was done at that point.

BB: How long do you see yourself staying involved with the Majic?

BW: As long as the community is behind us and the thing that really gets me going is seeing my guys go overseas. I think basketball camps are a real big part of the whole program. If it wasn't for the camps, I probably wouldn't have the team. We do a lot of stuff for the Boys and Girls Club, for single moms and that kind of stuff. We bring all that together and try to help out people that might not be able to attend a game or attend a camp. As long as all of that is going and the league is around, I'll continue to do it. There's new hurdles every year. Minor league basketball changes so much, there's always so many moving parts. As long as my guys continue to get contracts overseas and the community is still behind us, I'll keep it going.