Following a blistering shooting performance in a win over the Suns last night the Nets are back in action tonight against the Jazz.
This game is notable because it is Deron Williams’ return to Utah in front of the fans he delighted for five seasons as a member of the Jazz.
To mark the occasion, we decided to change things up. In lieu of our normal pregame 3-on-3, we decided to get reactions from Williams’ time as a Jazz from people who were actually there. We asked members of the ESPN Truehoop Network Affiliate Jazz blog, Salt City Hoops for their memories of the time they spent covering Williams. Jeff Lind, Nick Smith and Todd Peterson were gracious enough to respond.
But first, a few game notes:
- Injury Report: For the Nets: Damion James is out. For the Jazz: Earl Watson is listed as day-to-day. We’ll update as we learn more.
- Old faces, new places: Deron Williams is the most notable of returning Jazz players, but the Nets actually have five total former Jazz. Aside from Williams, Mehmet Okur, DeShawn Stevenson, Kris Humphries and Sundiata Gaines all spent time in Utah.
- Checking in with Devin and Derrick: Will also be good to see the familiar face of Devin Harris. He’s off to a rough start with Utah this season, but I always liked him and thought he played hard for the Nets. As for Derrick Favors – we hardly knew ya. But I’m curious to see if his game has developed at all since leaving NJ.
- Nets Are Scorching: Never has the title of our blog seemed so fitting. Over the last two games the Nets have made 35 three-pointers including Deron William’s career high six he drained vs. the Suns. They now lead the league with 115 3-pointers made.
- Deron’s Return: For what it’s worth, I feel the Utah fans owe it to DWill to cheer him tonight. By all accounts he did not ask out of Utah and was a good member of the community, he deserves a good ovation, but who knows, fans are fickle. More thoughts (including Salt City Hoops memories) after the jump.
Thanks again to Jeff, Nick and Todd of Salt City Hoops. Take it away:
I’ll never forget Deron’s passing skills. There are good passers in this league and there are great passers in this league, but there are only a few next-level passers that can deliver the ball to their guy in that the exact spot it needs to be. Deron had that ability, and it made everyone better. That’s why he was so lethal. He could take the shot himself, or deliver the shot to a teammate. Either way, someone was going to have a legitimate chance at closing the deal. My least favorite thing about Deron was his temper. There were a few public displays (the thrown ball at Hayward, the blow-up with Sloan), but for the most part, Deron’s temper tantrums were something Jazz fans experienced in post-game interviews & after the curtain went down. At times it felt like Deron was always pouting about something. Sometimes it was about his friends being traded, other times it was about coaching methods he didn’t agree with, and often it was because players weren’t running the offense correctly. No one can fault a guy for caring as much as Deron did, but you can fault him for the way he displayed his emotions.Jeff Lind – @jefflind
My fondest memory of Deron was his coming out party in the 2007 playoffs when the Jazz made a run to the Western Conference Finals. After an amazing series and a game seven victory against the Houston Rockets in the first round, the Jazz stomped on the over-achieving Golden State Warriors in five games in the second round to advance to the Western Conference Finals. Although Utah didn’t show particularly well against San Antonio, it was that playoff run where everyone realized that DWill was a superstar in the making. Jazz fans knew of Deron’s talent and capability, but I remember how shocked I was as to just how competitive he played. There have been other highs and other lows with him since then, but I remember feeling how lucky I was to be a Jazz fan, having one of the top 10 players in the NBA on my favorite team, still under a rookie contract. While Deron has incredible individual talent, it’s undeniable how much better he makes his teammates look. Carlos Boozer has never been the same since he went a different direction, even while playing with the league’s MVP. I enjoyed having DWill in Utah, and although he left town on a rocky road, any fan is lucky to watch him compete.
Nick Smith – @nickyjam21
My favorite memories of Deron involve his late game heroics. His ability to take over at the end of a tight game and give the entire fan base confidence is what I miss the most. It’s impossible to choose a single moment, since the value of “clutch” is found in its consistency. No one talks about Reggie Miller being clutch because of one game, and similarly, Deron isn’t clutch because of last year’s runner in the lane at Charlotte, the jumper off the curl two years ago to beat OKC at home, the cross over and shot from the foul line against Ray Allen in early ’09, or the drive past LeBron and the Cavs in ’07. Instead I’ll just choose to remember an amorphous game coming down to the wire and not having to worry about who is going to take the shot. I’ll remember simply sitting back & live in the moment that makes everyone watching love the NBA a little more.
Todd Peterson – @thetoddam