Tonight is that big night, Deron Williams and the struggling New Jersey Nets face off in his old gym, the Energy Solutions Arena against his old club, our Utah Jazz. I hope you did not miss Prodigal Punk's great preview of this game, if you did you can catch it here. Tonight is going to be an emotional night - for the owners, the coaches, the other players, and obviously, the fans. However, we may be overlooking the emotional reaction this game will elicit from Deron Williams. Let's not forget that this is a guy who was traded, he did not demand a trade. He didn't leave as a free agent. He was our best player during the seasons he was here, and he was making a life here in Utah during the off-seasons as well. Without him we never would have won that one game in the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs way back in the 2006-2007 season. Without him we wouldn't have even made the playoffs. Enough about me, let's take a look at what D-Will has to say about this situation:
"I'm forever thankful for the opportunity I was given in Utah, my first opportunity in the NBA. It was a great six years of my life. I had a lot of fun there, and we won a lot of basketball games. Making it to the Western Conference Finals was probably the highlight for me, being so close to a championship. But the whole time there was a great experience.
I learned a lot of valuable things during my time in Utah. Coach Sloan taught me toughness. He is a tough, hard-nosed guy, and he instilled that in his players. He taught us how to compete every day. It wasn't always about Xs and Os with him. It was also about competing and leaving it all out on the floor. You can do all the preparation in the world and all the talking in the world, but it just mattered to him when you went out there and did it on the floor.
My whole family loved Utah. We really enjoyed living there and being a part of that community. It'll be great to be back and playing in front of the fans that I came into the league with. There will probably be some mixed reviews, probably some boos out there, but I think there's still a lot of love too. I have nothing but love for the community there, for the fans there." - Deron Williams
This game was supposed to be on NBA-TV, but I guess showing the Lakers and Clippers is more important. For the people lucky enough to go to the game, be good fans and represent the Jazz in a way that would make Larry H. Miller proud. And I don't just mean throw $10 million dollars at Mehmet Okur either, heh heh.
Go Jazz go!