We’ve said this before: Deron Williams may miss the Nets game with an injury.
Williams, now with the Dallas Mavericks, was set to make a healthy return to Barclays Center to take on the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday for the first time since agreeing to a buyout to leave the team in July.
But Williams hurt his hamstring in the third quarter of Dallas’s Tuesday night game against the Toronto Raptors. Williams felt a “pop” in his left hamstring, which had experienced tightness earlier in the year, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
Williams was dogged with injuries throughout his Brooklyn Nets tenure, issues that he freely admits hurt his confidence and ability to perform.
Deron Williams: "The last thing I want to do is miss this game tomorrow. It's definitely frustrating."
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 23, 2015
Though there was no official injury report listed, MacMahon said that it was “unlikely” Williams would play in his lone return to Barclays Center. Fans planning on bringing “MISSING” posters critical of Williams’s performance may have a literal reason to do so now.
Williams remembers those fans. The 31-year-old guard told MacMahon he expects boos from the crowd, citing the “fans” that expected more from him and the “non-fans” that “(didn’t) pick (him) up.”
“I’m sure I’ll get booed,” Williams told ESPN.com over the weekend. “Those Brooklyn fans, they expected more out of me. I expected more out of myself. Injuries are tough, man. Somebody that’s been injured year after year, they can attest. They take a toll on you physically. It takes a toll on you mentally.
“Add that to the New York media and the fans — or I should say the non-fans, the ones that don’t pick you up — it all takes a toll on you. I think it definitely took a toll on me, but that’s what happens when you get paid that money and you don’t produce like it.”
Williams further criticized the New York media, which he says was unfair and leaned heavily on headlines over substance. “The thing that bothered me is [when] the headline has nothing to do with what the article is about,” Williams told ESPN. “It’s just about selling papers there. You’ve got to understand that. It’s the nature of New York. That’s just how it is.”
Williams also added that the max deal he got in Brooklyn had less to do with underperforming expectations than his ankles, which required multiple surgeries when Williams donned a Nets uniform:
“You know what? It wasn’t that big a deal. I was already a max player in Utah,” said Williams, who played in three straight All-Star Games, including in his first full season with the Nets, the franchise’s final year in New Jersey. “People say, ‘Ah, when you get a max deal, it’s a lot of pressure.’ If I wasn’t hurt, I know it would have been a whole different story. My confidence never would have gotten to where it was.
“I was playing through swollen ankles every single day. I could barely walk, barely get up the stairs, and I had to play basketball. I just know it would have been a whole different story. I wish I would have had the surgeries earlier. That probably would have been a little bit better, but you never know.”
Williams has experienced a bit of a resurgence with Dallas. His production isn’t much different from his last season in Brooklyn, but he fits much better with Dallas as a tertiary option, free from the expectations from being the franchise player.
Lastly, MacMahon reports that despite Williams’s issues with the fans and the media, he wasn’t willing to throw any criticism towards the front office, saying Nets general manager Billy King did a “great job” trying to build a contender.