Setting the record straight on Deron Williams, Utah and Dallas

09.03.10 7 years ago 95 Comments

Deron Williams (photo. Christian Kozowyck)

Earlier this week, Dime’s Andrew Macaluso wrote an opinion column — and I should stress the word opinion — about Deron Williams and the likelihood of him leaving Utah in 2012 for the Dallas Mavericks. The column drew a lot of attention across the country, especially in Utah, where the understandably defensive fan base mostly blasted Andrew for factual errors and various assumptions he made in his piece.

One such response came from Utah Jazz radio/TV personality David Locke, whom Andrew interviewed (via Twitter) and quoted in his column. In a blog post titled, “Reacting to Absurdity – The Dime Magazine Piece,” Locke blew off Andrew’s column as garbage and defended his own role in supporting Andrew’s conclusion that Deron won’t finish his career in Utah.

After reading through it a couple times, I felt I had to issue a response to Locke’s response. Let’s go old-school Internet message board style and address it point-by-point:

LOCKE — “Let’s get some things clear. The writer is an intern for Dime Magazine. He is looking to make a career and didn’t do his work on the piece. He is probably excited that I am reacting to it. My real message would be to Jazz fans to stop being so reactionary and think about the facts and look into who is writing these things.”

* Yes, Andrew is an intern, but that’s no reason for Locke to use that status as an immediate strike against him. The vast majority of professional sportswriters, announcers, and media members used to be interns at some point. I’ve been an intern, my co-Associate Editor at Dime has been an intern, and all of my bosses at every media outlet I’ve ever worked were once interns. I’m assuming Locke was even an intern once. So if his position is that interns are inherently screw-ups, I guess this whole business is full of screw-ups, from NYC to L.A. to Utah.

There were definitely some mistakes in the piece. For example, Andrew said the Jazz have only “first round exits” to show for themselves since signing Deron to a contract extension, which is wrong. No excuse for that one. But if that’s the worst thing you can find in the column, I don’t think that qualifies it as “absurd,” or as so many reader responses claimed, “not journalism” and the worst article they’ve ever read. I’ll chalk that up to the growing Internet culture of negativity and overblowing everything.

LOCKE — “It included no comments from Deron in any way shape or form. Second the premise was largely based on the Jazz losing Boozer, Matthews and Korver in the off-season. Nowhere is it discussed that the Jazz answered the bell better than could be imagined with the additions of Al Jefferson, Raja Bell and Gordon Hayward.”

* While getting quotes from players/coaches is obviously ideal in every scenario, opinion columns and hypothetical “pitch” pieces don’t necessarily need quotes. I recently wrote a piece suggesting the Nuggets trade Carmelo Anthony to Houston in a deal involving Kevin Martin. I didn’t talk to anybody in the Denver or Houston front office; I didn’t talk to ‘Melo or K-Mart to see how they felt. It was just an idea I had that on paper worked out for both sides, so I put it out there. Andrew’s piece about Deron eventually leaving Utah for Dallas was the same thing. An idea that made sense to him that he wanted to put out there. No quotes required.

LOCKE — “I am quoted via twitter, which is always dangerous when you are limited to 120 characters. … What was printed was not my response. My response was in fact the following “what have the Jazz done that would make his heart be out of it. If it is nothing they can do about it.”

* I’m not up in Andrew’s Twitter messages like that, but he printed Locke’s response as: “Jazz fans are concerned about losing Deron, but what have the Jazz done that would make his heart be out of it? If it is, there’s nothing they can do about it.”

That sounds exactly like Locke’s admitted response, simply cleaned up to be a bit more legible. Just because Twitter has a 140-character limit doesn’t mean Locke couldn’t have split his response into two posts if he wanted to be read more clearly. I thought Andrew did Locke a professional favor by not printing his by-the-letter response.

LOCKE — “The final premise of this ill advised article is that when Deron is a free agent he will want to go to Dallas because Dallas is better and has a better supporting cast. There is an old phrase you are better off staying quiet and being thought a fool than opening your mouth and removing all doubt. On this one the phrase would include keep writing and remove all doubt. The Jazz roster includes 25 year old Al Jefferson, 25 year old Paul Millsap 24 year CJ Miles and a 21 year old Gordon Hayward who in 2012 when Deron is a free agent will all be in their prime. Dallas, on the other hand, will have Shaun Marion, Brendan Haywood, Rodrique Beaubois and Dirk Nowitzki on the roster.

“I love Dirk but the idea that Deron would want to leave Utah in order to play with a then 34 year old Dirk is laughable.”

* Now we’re just getting into territory where it’s one writer’s opinon versus another. That’s fine if Locke thinks the Jazz have a better foundation than the Mavericks, but that’s his opinion. If Andrew thinks differently, it doesn’t make his column ill-advised or absurd. When you’re comparing rosters of NBA teams, few things are concrete. Of course the Lakers have a better roster than the Warriors right now, but if we’re talking about two Western Conference playoff contenders, the differences aren’t that large. I could argue that since Dirk is better than any player currently on the Jazz, that alone makes the Mavs more attractive to a point guard like Deron.

Also, I find it strange how Locke is being a stickler about fact-checking when he spells Shawn Marion’s name wrong. (Among other numerous punctuation and grammatical errors in his post.) Honestly, I’m pretty forgiving when it comes to typos and small mistakes like that — we’re all under tight deadlines and stressed out in this business — but when you’re throwing rocks, make sure you have your own glass windows reinforced.

LOCKE — “Finally, my favorite line of this whole collection of words “arguably the best owner in basketball, Mark Cuban” Are you serious? His basis is because Cuban is willing to go into the luxury tax to win a title. Next time in Dallas I will be sure to look for that trophy. Cuba maybe the loudest and most fined, but I can make a strong argument that he is at the core of a culture that is incapable of winning because of his antics. Moroever, the last time I checked the Millers have shown the same thing.”

* Again, this comes down to one man’s opinion versus another man’s opinion. So Locke doesn’t think Cuban is the League’s best owner. That’s cool. But his opinion isn’t any closer to fact than Andrew’s.

But I get it. I’m originally from Seattle, and I was around when Locke was working as a talk-show host on Seattle’s top sports radio station. He comes from the sports radio culture, where IF YOU TALK LOUDER THAN EVERYONE ELSE, YOUR POINT SEEMS MORE CORRECT. Locke used that STYLE … OF SPEAKING … LOUDLY … AND IN SHORT CLIPS … TO SOUND AUTHORITATIVE … AND IN A PLACE … WHERE … HE COULD CONTROL … HOW MUCH … CALLERS WERE ABLE … TO RESPOND. He’s apparently taken it over to his new job as well.

LOCKE — “Final things to the author or should I say intern of this piece. In the last 4 years, the Dallas Mavericks have won 1 playoff series. Your right Deron has no chance to win in Utah and that would all change in Dallas.”

* One more time with the blanket “intern” insult. I would hope any young kid on his way up in the sports media game in Utah doesn’t have to intern under Locke, because obviously he doesn’t think much of interns.

In a lot of ways, interns help provide the backbone of this business, doing the “little things” that salaried employees either don’t have time or desire to do, often for zero or little pay. If a business is run like an NBA team, interns are the undersized power forwards like Leon Powe, or the not-as-athletic guards who specialize in defense or shooting. They are the role players, and without them, superstars don’t win championships. I understand and respect that. Locke clearly doesn’t.

As far as Deron’s chances of winning in Utah versus winning in Dallas, it’s really just splitting hairs. Neither franchise has won a championship, and in fact, Dallas (2006 Finals) has come closer more recently than Utah. But that’s another matter of opinion regarding who is best set up to contend by 2012. That’s not my place to say the Mavs or Jazz are a better look for Deron. But even back in ’08, when I interviewed Deron for a feature in Dime #41, I asked him about the possibility of going to Dallas someday. (This was before he signed his current contract extension.) He grew up in the area and team’s owner is known to spend money on big-time players, so it’s not a far-off assumption that Dallas would be on D-Will’s radar.

Either way, when you’re representing a team (Utah) that hasn’t won a championship and trying to clown another franchise that hasn’t won a title, you end up looking silly on your pedestal. Locke is a pro in the game, and I would think he’d be better than that. But maybe I’m just being absurd.

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