Promoting the Celebrity Dodge Barrage with Rosanna Scotto and Greg Kelly on Fox’s Good Day New York this morning, Deron Williams tackled a host of topics, including his dodgeball event, his new coach, the recent inflammatory comments made by Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson, and the recent release of a videotape showing Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice assaulting his wife.
Williams says his ankles are healthy, after undergoing simultaneous surgery on both ankles shortly after the Nets were eliminated from the playoffs last season. “Ankles are doing a lot better, got about 20 days until camp starts and hopefully I’ll be ready for it.”
Williams is hosting the fifth annual Celebrity Dodge Barrage this Monday, September 15th, and chose dodgeball because nobody else was doing it. “I had a golf tournament. You know a lot of people have those golf tournaments, so I tried to think of a unique way we could raise some money for some good causes,” Williams said. “Former teammate of mine Kyle Korver, we came up with dodgeball, I don’t know how, I don’t know what made us think of dodgeball.” The event will raise money for his charity, The Point Of Hope Foundation, and the The League Education and Treatment Center in Brooklyn.
He also responded to backlash regarding recent statements he made in Resident Magazine about the difficulties of living in New York. “It’s just a different lifestyle here. That’s all I was pointing out. I enjoyed my time and the summers away, but I definitely love it in New York. I signed here for five years. … I take the subway. I enjoy a lot of things about New York. It’s very convenient.”
The conversation then turned to more difficult matters, firstly the controversial emails and conversations circling around the Atlanta Hawks organization, including an e-mail from owner Bruce Levenson that indicated white fans were more valuable than black fans, and later a scouting report read by general manager Danny Ferry that included disparaging comments about African-born player Luol Deng.
“It’s just unfortunate,” Williams said about the revelations. “Same with the Donald Sterling thing. It brings a bad light to the NBA, which we definitely don’t want. But it’s just something we deal with in today’s society.
I’m sure (racism exists) on every level. I’m half-black, half-white, so I’ve seen it growing up. It’s something that’s definitely relevant, it’s sad that it still is and it’s sad that he made those comments, it’s sad for Luol Deng, who was the center of those comments, and hopefully the league is taking appropriate actions.”
The conversation then turned to Ray Rice, who Williams called a friend. Rice was recently released by the Baltimore Ravens, following a tape released to the public that showed Rice knocking his wife unconscious in an elevator. “It’s another unfortunate incident that happened,” Williams said. “He’s already lived through it, he’s already went through the precautions of taking the right steps to do it.”
Rice has since been suspended indefinitely by the league, after an original suspension of just two games. Williams says he believes Rice should play again. “Yeah, I mean, everybody makes mistakes,” Williams said. “I’m friends with him. … He’s doing counseling, he’s done all that. What’s sad is that he’s already lived through this and he’s already dealt with it appropriately and now it’s being brought back out.”
The interview closed on a lighter note, with Williams talking about his first meeting with coach Lionel Hollins. “Just met with him for the first time a couple of days ago when I got in town, we had a great meeting, great talk, he’s excited about this season, and so am I.”