Phoenix Horror Stories: John 'Hot Rod' Williams and 'Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things


Welcome to Phoenix Horror Stories, the place where I compare former/current Phoenix Suns players to horror movies/icons.

Bob Clark was a writer/director from New Orleans who directed nearly 30 films before passing away in 2007. Most people will know him as the man behind the hits BABY GENIUSES and SUPERBABIES: BABY GENIUSES 2, with a handful of people remembering his lesser known works like PORKY’S and A CHRISTMAS STORY. What few people may know, however, is that before moving on to the aforementioned classics, he did a handful of horror movies, some of which are superb. One of said horror movies was a little film known as CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS.

CHILDREN SHOULDN’T PLAY WITH DEAD THINGS is the story of 6 friends who decide to dig up a corpse named Orville. Their plan is to use him in a ritual to raise the dead and then have one crazy party. It’s going to be a splendid time hanging out with Orville and his pals. Sounds like a blast, right? What could possibly go wrong?

At first things are going great. Everyone is having so much fun and the kids just laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh. Of course they don’t really expect the ritual to work and they just plan on having some morbid fun with a dead body. Then things take a turn for a worse. The ritual does work and the dead rise! And then we learn why children shouldn’t play with dead things.

In the fall of 1995 the Phoenix Suns were still trying to recover from back-to-back Western Conference Semi-Final eliminations at the hands of the Houston Rockets. Leading the way for the Rockets was dominant big man Hakeem Olajuwon. Jerry Colangelo, Team President at the time, decided the Suns needed to shake things up a bit. They need to get bigger and stronger up front. In order to accomplish this Colangelo traded Dan Majerle, Antonio Lang and a first round pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for John "Hot Rod" Williams, a 6’11" center.

In theory this was a good idea. The Suns did need to get bigger. They did need an inside presence. Williams was bigger and so theoretically he could have been an inside presence. The front office seemed pleased by the move. They were ready to have a good time. They laughed and they laughed and they laughed. Then the season began and things took a turn for the worse.

It was evident early on that Hot Rod just wasn’t very good. In 3 of his first 4 games he logged less than 25 minutes and was shooting an atrocious 27% from the field. Remember, Hot Rod was nearly 7 feet tall and yet he could only make 27% of his shots. For the season he would bump that percentage up to 45% and average just over 26 minutes while scoring 7 points and grabbing 6 rebounds.

No one was laughing anymore.

By the time Colangelo had traded for Williams he was already 33. His prime years were well behind him and even then they were no better than average. Williams would go on to play a total of 3 forgettable years in Phoenix while the Suns were stuck in no man’s land. Majerle, on the other hand, would quickly escape Cleveland and go on to be a key piece on Pat Riley’s Miami Heat.

Hot Rod was a lot like Orville. He was basically dead and most certainly a stiff. On the surface the thought of playing with him may sound fun, but the slightest bit of logic and reason will tell you that it’s a bad idea. Unfortunately Collangelo never did seem to learn that children shouldn’t play with dead things. Hot Rod was released in the summer of 1998, but the following winter Collangelo and the Suns picked up Luc Longley and well, I think you know what happened next.

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