"Super John" Williamson, the closest thing the Bullets have had to a point producing machine since the days of Earl Monroe, said he will get even better -- "Once I get in shape."
In shape or not, the chubby, sharpshooting guard with the outgoing personality, funny stories and boyish manner, was already popular with his teammates, even before he won them a basketball game Wednesday night in San Diego.
He is a major reason the Bullets, winners of two straight, have renewed playoff hopes.
Williamson came off the bench and scored 23 points in 23 minutes, 12 of them in the fourth quarter Wednesday as the Bullets came from behind to beat the Clippers, 108-103.
There was much skepticism when the Bullets traded part of their future in Roger Phegley to the New Jersey Nets for Williamson 12 days ago. But not any more.
After a slow start, because of a pulled groin muscle, Williamson broke out against the Clippers with the kind of performance that had the whole team singing his praises.
Williamson hit off-balance jumpers from 20 feet, weasled his way inside for a scoop layup and quick-wristed a couple of shots in while he was standing almost out of bounds.
"Supe's the first player I've ever had who I told to just go in and score," said Bullet Coach Dick Motta. "I really like him. He's really a good guy. His teammates really like him a lot, too, and that's important.
"We were desperate when we made the deal for him. The big gamble wasn't because of his personality or anything like that, it was because we were facing the seven-game road trip, were six games below .500 and he didn't have much chance to work with us."
The Bullets stuck with three simple plays to get Williamson the ball Wednesday and Motta said they will put in one special play for him before Friday's game here against the Phoenix Suns.
In his first game as a Bullet, Feb. 7 at Indiana, Williamson scored 12 points in 22 minutes, but pulled a groin muscle. He played a total of 30 minutes and made only seven of 16 shots and scored 16 points in the next three games.
Then came San Diego and Williamson exploded for 10-of-18 shooting from the field.
"I'm just now starting to get a feel for the other guys," said Williamson. "I'm getting to know them off the court, too, and that helps when you get out there and start playing.
"They told me they brought me here to shoot the basketballs so that's what I'm going to do. When they're in trouble, they're going to call on me. I like that kind of pressure."
Williamson used his bulk to get open just about whenever he wanted, and he did most of his damage to the Clippers with a semi-set shot from the 20-foot range.
"When my outside shot is working, I save my energy," Williamson said. "As I get more in shape, I'll go more inside."
The usually unemotional Bullets started loosening up when Williamson started drilling his shots. Cries of "Supe! Supe!" could be heard from the Bullet bench as Williamson swished in shot after shot.
"He was right in front of me one time and it looked like he just threw the ball at the basket," said trainer John Lally. "I wondered to myself what he was doing and then it went right in the basket."
Elvin Hayes, Greg Ballard and Kevin Grevey, who had combined for 86 points in the Bullets' victory over Denver the night before, totaled only 40 points against the Clippers,but Williamson picked up the slack, much to the delight of Hayes.
"He can play and he just took a while to get himself settled," said Hayes. "When he first came in here, I kept telling him to shoot.He's probably one of the best one-on-one players in the league. He can get the points on his own. He doesn't need picks or anything, just the ball. That's why he's here.
"He brought us out of the hole in San Diego by just shooting the ball. That's what Supe's all about," Hayes said.
Williamson has a unique playing style and an equally unique shot. A martial arts expert, Williamson is built like a heavy weight boxer, with massive upper arms and shoulders and a midriff paunch that he says he is losing.
He saunters up the floor, sometimes as if he doesn't know where he is or what he's doing, and his basic shot is a weird-looking one-hander.
"He's very deceptive because he comes down the floor hunched over and dragging his shooting arm," said Hayes. "And then he shoots that set shot. He's got a variety of other moves, though, too."
Said Williamson, "I know it looks awkward and funny sometimes when I shoot off the run, but it works for me. I practice in the summer to shoot from all different positions."
Williamson, whose weight ballooned to 228 pounds at one time this season, but is now down to about 210, still likes to eat and his new teammates like to tease him about it.
But the thing about Williamson that is most appealing to them is his humor. He's the kind of player everyone likes to be around. He always has something amusing to say or he's doing something to keep people laughing.
"Supe will keep you in stitches," said captain Wes Unseld.
"He'd probably be good for this team even if he didn't score points," Motta said.
But Williamson is scoring points and the Bullets, now 25-32, and only 2 1/2 games behind the New York Knicks for the sixth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, think their problems could be over.
"We don't need help from any other teams if we keep playing like this," Motta said after the San Diego game. "Heck, if we make the playoffs we can win it all. All we have to do is play like we have been and stay healthy."
Terms of the Dec. 4 Phil Chenier trade to Indiana for future considerations" called for the trade to be voided if Chenier's back problems acted up again.
Back spasms have sidelined Chenier since Jan. 30 and he may be through for this season. That puts the trade in jeopardy. The Bullets and Pacers are currently talking about resolving the problem before the NBA trading deadline, midnight Friday.
Chenier played 23 games for the Pacers and averaged 5.4 points for shooting 38.5 percent from the field.
If Chenier were returned to the Bullets, he would most likely be put on the injured list for the remainder of the season, and the future consideration acquired from Indiana, believed to be draft choices, would be returned.