His upcoming free agency is likewise mysterious. Maybe it’s because he’s playing second fiddle to the theater of Dwight Howard, or maybe it’s because any post-Decision decision pales in psychological and basketball comparison. No one’s shattering and rejuvenating lives this summer, anyway. In the summer of 2010, we could at least delve (incorrectly so) into the psychosis guiding each free agent’s choice, even if our prognostications were limited and inexact. Joe Johnson was a selfish scorer unconcerned with team success, so naturally he would re-up for the max somewhere. Amar’e Stoudemire was just too fashionable and glitzy for the desert, too brash to play second fiddle to Steve Nash anymore. New York made sense.
There’s nothing on Deron Williams other than his undoubtedly scrutiny-level talent – the kind we nitpick until a minor deficiency explodes into a gaping chasm. I’m not really sure when Deron Williams fell off the basketball map, or if he was really ever on it. Even when he was drafted third overall in 2005, he was just some guy who had led Illinois to the National Championship game (and lost). That was nice. Maybe he’d make some noise in the NBA, one day. Chris Paul really owned the show – he was prettier. Nicer passes, sexier crossover, all that stuff. Deron was too bulldog-ish and grizzled, intimidating with the circumference of his bicep instead of picturesque floor general-ing. The Stephon Marbury mold.
It wasn’t until a few years later that we could even settle how to pronounce his name. Was he DER-on or der-ON? Everyone knew the “w” in Nowitzki was really a “v.” – he was a great basketball player. DER-on/der-ON hadn’t quite reached that level of talent where we cared enough to inquire about those delicate tonalities. (It’s DER-on, I think.)
Let’s fast forward back to the now. His free agency has articulated the subtlest difference between DER-on and other stars: it’s not a matter of where he’ll choose, but how we’ll react to his choice. LeBron wasn’t spared that luxury. If he wanted loyalty, he would stay in Cleveland. Fame, New York. Blasphemy, Miami. Every choice compartmentalized him into some inescapable nook of personality. DER-on, it seems, is in control of us, and not the other way around. Look around the Internet – just a few facts and weak rumors concerning his upcoming decision, and nothing more. He’s wrapped in some bubble of secrecy that even Chris Broussard can’t penetrate.
Something tells me we’ll analyze Dallas and Brooklyn’s future, one a lucky winner of the sweepstakes and the other a spurned loser, without contemplating the non-basketball why. Which is undoubtedly important, I think, because if each player made solely “basketball decisions” about his career, the top 15 players in the league would be on the same team. But we can’t explore this other side of DER-on because there’s never been anything to go on before, and there’s nothing now. But, just maybe, he likes it that way.
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