DeShawn Stevenson is a unique soul. Not only did he choose to leave the world champion Dallas Mavericks for the then-24-58 Nets, Stevenson is the only person in NBA history (if not world history) to get a tattoo of Abraham Lincoln on his Adam’s apple. He’s had his share of issues production-wise on the court this season, for a variety of reasons (most of them himself), but Avery Johnson relies on him best as a spot defender to shut down shooters in key moments.
But DeShawn admitted that that hasn’t always been the case in this up-and-down season, citing a specific moment after a game in March:
“He asked me to [talk to the team],” Stevenson said of Johnson. “Because at the end, I was out there on the court and I let somebody back-cut me. And I did it on purpose because I didn’t get the ball when I was wide open for a three.”
“[Johnson] felt my pain,” Stevenson continued, “but he just thought that, with me being who I am and how far I came through that, I should have handled it a different way than I did.”
Andy Vasquez, The Record — DeShawn Stevenson makes waves
It’s not often that you hear a player willingly admit to quitting on the defensive end because of a missed opportunity on the offensive end, so for that alone, credit to DeShawn. For what it’s worth, since that instance — a 105-84 loss to Utah — the Nets have won five of seven, and Stevenson credits the attitude change after that night:
“I told them that, you know, we have to go out there and play how we need to play and not worry about stats and stuff like that,” Stevenson said. “Ever since then you can see that the mood changed and we’re not worried about shots, we’re worried about winning.”
While I’m not sure that Stevenson’s pep talk has as much to do with the recent 5-2 spurt as increased production from Morrow and Gerald Squared (and maybe a sprinkle of small sample size and opponent tank juice), it’s worth noting that the Nets have looked different in these past seven games — there’s a startling amount of energy on the floor, shooters are making shots, and the team seems confident in its ability to pick up victories in this stretch. Of course, in the long-term, Deron Williams has also stated that nothing that could happen at the end of the season would affect his decision to stay or go.