Nets fans irked by Deron Williams no-show

Dirk Nowitzki & the Dallas Mavericks emerged victorious Wednesday night. (AP)
Dirk Nowitzki & the Dallas Mavericks emerged victorious Wednesday night. (AP)
Dirk Nowitzki & the Dallas Mavericks emerged victorious Wednesday night. (AP)

As the Dallas Mavericks built their lead in the first half, lost it in the second, and regained it in overtime, one small, dedicated group of fans in Section 114 chanted a simple question: “Where is Deron?”

They were asking, of course, about Deron Williams, the oft-maligned former Nets point guard. Williams was slated to make his return to Brooklyn for the first time since donning a Dallas Mavericks uniform, but a left hamstring injury kept him off the active list. It also kept him away from public view; Williams spent the game in the locker room and weight room rather than come out to the bench.

At least one person didn’t want to talk about Williams’s return: his former coach, Lionel Hollins.

“I have no comment about Deron Williams and what he says,” Hollins said. “I don’t even want to talk about Deron Williams, period. We had an opportunity to talk about Deron during fall camp, when we started, and there’s no need to keep talking about Deron, from my perspective. So let’s not go into that. I appreciate you asking the question, but I have enough worries of my own to worry about what Deron Williams said.”

But Williams did speak with the New York media — the same media he criticized for focusing on headlines over substance — before the game.

“(The injury is) very disappointing man, very disappointing,” “You only come here once. First time back, I get hurt the game before. So it’s definitely frustrating missing this game because I wanted to be out there with my teammates.”

Everyone was waiting. Some fans came wearing Williams’s jersey with red X’s over his name and number. Others brought signs marking their displeasure, including hanging over a half-dozen “Wanted” posters, which seemed a bit more appropriate following his no-show.

One fan applied a Nets-centric angle to Steve Harvey’s recent Miss Universe gaffe.

As the game progressed, it became clearer and clearer that Williams wouldn’t exit the back. After all, why would he? He was already ruled out for the night. Why would he come out just to get booed?

Still, fans grew more irked. “Deron’s scared!” One such chant went.

“I think the way I played was disappointing for fans,” Williams said before the game. “When you’re given a max deal and you don’t perform to it, especially in New York, you’re going to hear it. So I understand. I wish things were different, I wish it would have worked out differently but I can’t control that and I can just move forward.”

Still, he acknowledged it was “weird” to return to Barclays Center he set off the metal detector upon entry.

“It’s weird coming down on the bus and the tunnel,” Williams said. “As soon as I got off there was about six people I knew. So just kinda saying hi to them and talking to them, there’s definitely a lot of people I miss in this organization. I was around for three, four, five years. You form a lot of relationships and you get used to being around certain people. So you definitely miss them.”

Williams played under four head coaches in his tenure with the Nets, spending the last season with current head coach Lionel Hollins. Williams averaged 13 points and 6.6 assists per game in his lone season under Hollins, and his effective field goal percentage was the lowest of his career. Williams has had a bit of a resurgence under Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, with a slight uptick in points per game (14.8) and a newfound comfort away from the spotlight of New York and the burdens of a franchise player.

“He’s always been one of my favorite players,” Carlisle said. “Since he’s come to us, he’s done a great job. He’s worked extremely hard and done a great job. I feel bad for him that this happened at this time, because I know he really wanted to play. And I also know his years here were challenging, but he’s a prideful guy, and he’s an honest guy. Those are things I really respect about him. We just hope he gets well soon.”