While playing Call of Duty online, have you ever wondered if you had ever faced off with an NBA player unknowingly? If you’re a first-person shooting fiend, chances are that it’s a possibility. New Jersey’s Deron Williams and Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans are two more NBA players who say they love to play the popular video game franchise, Call of Duty.
Yesterday with the much-anticipated release of “Escalation,” the second map pack (four new multiplayer maps, ranging from a luxurious Cuban hotel to a Russian farm town, and one Zombie experience) for “Call of Duty: Black Ops,” the two NBA stars got to head out to Treyarch Studios in Santa Monica, California to check out the new maps. They faced off in an epic Grudge Match to determine which of the two was nicer on the sticks.
I got a chance to catch up with Williams and Evans just before they took to the screens to start setting claymores and sleight-of-handing each other to death. And if you’re wondering, Deron’s team prevailed over Tyreke’s team 4-2.
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Dime: Tell me how you got involved with Treyarch and the Call of Duty guys?
Deron Williams: I actually did an ESPN the Magazine interview about a year ago for Call of Duty. I dunno how that developed. I think they knew it was my favorite game. It’s really the only game that I play. So I think that’s how it got under way and they told me about the opportunity to come here and see where the game is made and have a chance to beat up on Tyreke so I was up for that.
Tyreke Evans: For me, I play Call of Duty in my off time and especially now that the season is over. I’ve started playing a lot. I just wanted to come out here to Treyarch and see the game and the new maps that they designed and see how it was going to look.
Dime: Tell me a little bit about the new maps that are releasing today. Did you guys get a chance to mess around with them at all?
DW: Yeah, we are doing that in a little bit after we get done talking to all of you guys. We will go down there and play.
Dime: Deron, you said this was kinda your favorite game. How would you guys rate your skills? Do you guys legitimately play a lot or is this the type of game where you can only play at certain times?
DW: I play a lot. I’m not the greatest. I’ve only prestiged once. Other people have prestiged 15 or 20 times, so I don’t play enough to prestige that much but when I get the chance (I play). I have four kids to look after.
TE: I’m more free (laughs). I don’t have four kids or nothing like that. I get a chance to play video games (a lot), especially whenever my friends come over to my house. We get to play the game, have fun and just chill and fall back.
Dime: As far as the league, it seems like there is a big video game culture in the entire league. Do you think that just comes from the age demographic and you guys being on the road all the time?
DW: Yeah, I think it’s everything that you said. We have a lot of free time. A lot of the guys are young and still kids in their own life. Video games are a way for guys to have fun and enjoy themselves.
Dime: Who are some of the best video game players that you guys have seen that are in the NBA?
TE: In what game?
Dime: Call of Duty.
TE: (chuckles) I’ve seen Nate Robinson play. He’s pretty good.
Dime: Is there anyone you know that is really big into video games, playing constantly and always up on what games are coming out and things like that?
DW: There’s a lot of people like that. That’s probably half of the NBA.
Dime: When you play, do you normally play online, with people you know or do you just get on and run with anybody?
DW: I play online. I play Call of Duty online most of them.
TE: I play with some friends and when we get on there, I can get online too and talk some trash to some of the people that are online.
Dime: How would you describe your style as a Call of Duty player? Do you have specific maps you like? Specific weapons or perks?
DW: Yeah, I use all of my classes. I fill them up. My favorite map is Nuketown because you can just run around killing people. I like the small maps.
TE: I like the other maps where I can hide so I won’t be getting killed. I’m trying to hide a lot. I try to camp out and wait for people to run by and then start shooting at ’em (laughs).
DW: Yeah, we are trying to play the new maps, man. I think it’s going to be fun to see them. It doesn’t give anybody an advantage because we don’t know the maps so we are even.
Dime: Now to switch off to basketball a little bit, watching the playoffs were you guys surprised by a team like Memphis doing what they’ve done?
DW: Yeah, I think everybody…San Antonio wasn’t playing too well at the end of the season and Memphis has youth and the size. So that wasn’t surprising. But them being up 1-0 again already (on OKC), still keeping that level of play up has been really surprising.
Dime: Now, do you guys still think the Lakers are the team to beat? Do you have any predictions for the rest of the way?
TE: For me, I dunno. The way it’s going right now, I mean, I think anybody can get up and make the championship out West. I like Miami winning the whole thing.
Dime: Now for both you guys, Deron, you’ve been in the playoffs all the time and ‘Reke you grew up winning, is it hard or different to have to sit back and watch the playoffs?
TE: Definitely, especially when you want to be playing and you want to be out there at that time of the season. Watching it all is kinda hard.
Dime: For both of you, would you say this past year was kind of your toughest year individually dealing with all of the injuries you had and Deron, you got traded and Tyreke you had to deal with what was going to happen in Sacramento’s future? Was it your toughest years individually?
TE: For me, especially with how many games I missed with the plantar fasciitis. It was tough trying to play on it. After a while, I got the picture and got the treatment and now it doesn’t hurt no more so I’m looking forward to next year.
DW: Yeah, this was by far my most frustrating year. I had high hopes for the team in Utah and things never really played out like I think everybody thought. Coach Sloan retired and then I get traded in the middle of the season, it was kind of unexpected. It was just tough, fighting and battling with the wrist injury. So it was definitely a frustrating and tough year. I’m not happy when the season’s over, but I was kinda relieved so now I can get the surgery and come back healthy next year.
Dime: What about this summer? Do you guys have any plans or anything interesting that you’re looking forward to doing?
DW: Playing golf. I play about four or five times a week once my wrist (gets better).
TE: I’m not good at the golf thing so I’m working out in Santa Monica.
Dime: Tyreke, you mentioned before all the injuries you had this year. How badly do you want to get back next year to show everyone how good you can be?
TE: I can’t wait. I’m looking forward to it, especially with the team we’ve got, we’ve added some new players and I think we’ll be getting some more good players so I’m looking forward to seeing what we’re going to look like and how we’re going to start the season.
Dime: For you Deron, once you came to New Jersey, your assist total really shot up. I think you were averaging something like 13 a game. Was that from the wrist or was that focusing on really getting your new guys shots?
DW: When you don’t have a big understanding of the offense, it’s easier to pass and try to set guys up in transition and that’s what I was trying to do. But, a lot of it was the wrist as well. I’m a pass-first point guard, but it kinda became passing was my first, second and third option. Then, I would shoot if I absolutely have to.
Dime: For both of you guys, is it tough to get into that offseason mode after such a long season? Are you kinda in basketball mode all the time or when you get into the summer, do you relax? Talk about your style a little bit.
DW: For me, I think your first couple of years in the league, no matter how much you play, you get right back into things. But the older you get, the more minutes you play, you start relishing your time off. So you want to do stuff just to stay in shape, but as far as basketball stuff, I’m probably not going to touch a basketball until July.
TE: For me, I’m just going to start working out as soon as possible in the middle of June.
Dime: Going into next season, can both you guys give me…you might not have thought about it, but what are some expectations for your teams next season?
DW: I want to get to the playoffs. That’s always a goal for everybody when they start a season. A championship, you want, but being realistic and getting to the playoffs, and finding some type of success would be great for us.
TE: Basically the same thing. Doing whatever it takes to win. We are pretty young, so the guys on the team really think score first. We just try to put it in their head that it’s all about winning.
Who would you think is the better Call of Duty player? D-Will or Tyreke? And what do you think of the new maps?
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