One of the perils of having two guys with similar names on the same roster is that there’s bound to be some confusion. There’s also the potential to easily offend one of them as well, as ESPN’s Holly Rowe may have done Monday when interviewing Oklahoma City’s Jalen Williams in front of teammate Jaylin Williams.
Monday’s Salt Lake Summer League game was notable for the Thunder as it was the first time Chet Holmgren played competitively since undergoing surgery for a Lisfranc injury in his right foot. The 7-foot-1 center impressed in a 95-85 loss to the Utah Jazz, finishing with 15 points on 6-of-14 shooting in 29 minutes of action.
Afterward, ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe wanted to speak with Holmgren, but the big man’s tradition of bringing his teammates with him meant she also got to speak with Jalen Williams, Jaylin Williams, and Tre Mann.
Rowe went down the line, starting with Holmgren before shifting to Jaylin and Mann. Then, she turned to face Jalen, who led the Thunder with 21 points on the night, and introduced him with a bit of an awkward transition.
“We dubbed you THE Jalen Williams tonight,” before turning to Jaylin and saying “No offense, young man.”
That certainly caught the attention of Jaylin Williams, who turned towards Holmgren with a “WTF” face. Meanwhile, Mann looked up at Jaylin with a face that seemed to ask “You okay with that?”
Maybe not the best thing to say about Jalen Williams right in front of Jaylin Williams? pic.twitter.com/qnnXi6zsHB
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) July 4, 2023
Here’s a closer look at their reactions.
This is such a terrible thing to say as a reporter wtf??? pic.twitter.com/FzfMlEcPVp
— ???????????⚡️ (@PlayoffShai) July 4, 2023
To Rowe’s credit, she didn’t just pull that nickname out of nowhere. It was analyst Thurl Bailey who coined the term during an in-game discussion, in which he wanted to shout out this Williams over the other two Williams on the Thunder roster.
Still, maybe not the greatest thing to say to Jalen in from of Jaylin, especially when the latter had a pretty solid night of his own, grabbing 13 rebounds and scoring eight points in 29 minutes.
We’ll also note that Jalen Williams’ Twitter handle just so happens to be TheRealJalenWilliams and he retweeted the cringe-y video, so maybe he’s already in agreement with the assessment.
As you might imagine, NBA Twitter had some thoughts on the comment.
— Mehmet Okurrrt (@Natural_OneDurr) July 4, 2023
It was so awkward watching this on TV. Chet, Tre, Jalen, and Jaylin all looked at each other so awkwardly and started laughing after she said it just a weird thing to do. https://t.co/2P5Y7DcUwr
— Pranav Sriraman (@PranavSriraman) July 4, 2023
— B. Terrell (@itsBTerrell) July 4, 2023
Thunder definitely aren't adding Auburn Jaylin Williams after this? https://t.co/sxVBe7c6oW
— Law Murray ? (@LawMurrayTheNU) July 4, 2023
We can presume Rowe meant no offense, but, also, maybe leave that anecdote out next time. At the very least, check to make sure there aren’t any other Jalen/Jaylen/Jaylin Williams around.