Kelly Williams couldn’t be any prouder to have defied Father Time after earning PBA Season 46 All-Defensive Team honors in the Leo Awards, Sunday.
And to do so with one of his contemporaries, who like him is a sure-fire Hall of Famer once everything is said and done, makes it all the more better.
Fellow 40-year-old Arwind Santos is also part of the selection, making it a reunion of sorts for the former league MVPs as they last won All-Defense citations together back in 2008 — just their second season in the pros.
“It’s great to see Arwind out there as well because we’re breaking the stigmas and the stereotypes that age means death; you’re no longer valuable as a player,” Williams said moments after TNT’s opening win over Magnolia.
“That’s one of my goals for the rest of my career, to be able to show people that regardless of age, you can go out there and be effective, and I’m gonna try to play at a high level for as long as I possibly can,” he added.
Williams and Santos were even seen on stage sharing a moment upon accepting their Leos, visibly glad about their latest achievement.
“I tell him every time we talk that I’m proud of how his career has gone. And knowing him now for seventeen years, and battling against him, it’s been great,” said Williams, who has known Santos since their PBL days.
“I’m grateful to him as a competitor, as a friend, and it’s great to see him up there still playing at a high level,” he furthered.
To win All-Defensive honors is indeed a feat for Williams, who retired back in 2020 but came back early last year with the return of Chot Reyes. For the Detroit native, it’s an indication that he’s on track of meeting his goal.
“When I came back to TNT, obviously, you heard all the murmurings and the judgments before I had the chance to play,” he recalled. “One of my career goals has always been to maximize myself as a player, as a person.
“And, that’s what I’ve tried to do since I’ve been back. Being able to be part of the All-Defensive Team is an indication for myself that things are going in the right direction,” added the seven-time PBA champion.