Making Sense Of Deron Williams’ Media Market Logic

There were times last season I’d catch myself switching over to New Jersey games on League Pass just to catch single offensive possessions by the Nets. Unless you had a bizarre hatred of Kris Humphries, the basketball player, there wasn’t another reason to watch the Nets last season other than Williams, one of the three best point guards in the NBA by anyone’s ranking. He’s compelling television by himself, even when his teams (as they so often have during his career) haven’t been. I’m a fan, is all. I bring him up because you’ll see him in the news today in interviews he gave for his upcoming video game appearance, and the mini, non-controversy he started with a question about player movement. I’m not here for that; I just want to know why he contradicted himself in the same day.

The headline that will grab the most publicity is that he told The New York Post he wasn’t sure if he’d be on the cover of something such as NBA Baller Beats if were still in Utah.

“Probably not,” Williams told The Post yesterday. “There’s not a lot of national opportunities in Utah. There’s definitely some local stuff, some regional stuff, but not too much national stuff.”

OK, no harm there. It’s not meant to be some sick burn on Salt Lake City natives, nor does it come across that way. It implies that being in a larger market helped his visibility and thus, bankability for sponsorship. He’s not a “mega” star yet who can demand business attention regardless of the market, ala Kevin Durant, or Tim Duncan or Kevin Garnett in his Minnesota days. Being in a larger market — in this case the No. 1 U.S. Nielsen market of New Jersey/New York — helps.

It’s curious only because of what he also said that day to Business Insider, that moving the franchise to Brooklyn was “a huge factor” for his staying.

“I don’t think I would have even thought about staying if it (the Nets franchise) was staying in New Jersey.”

It just doesn’t compute. Maybe he didn’t play in New York City, but his home games were only a relatively short train/car ride from NYC in East Rutherford. And for as drab as northern New Jersey is, and as much of a bummer it might seem to be the Knicks’ little brother in popularity, New Jersey is still essentially New York City as far as advertisers and visibility is concerned (sorry, Chris Christie and New Jersey state pride). That a team move was necessary for him makes even less sense when he said to the New York Times last week that he lived not in New Jersey, home of the old team, or Brooklyn, home of the new, but in Manhattan.

It’s not a new revelation that staying in New Jersey was a business deal for Williams, where he got more money than playing in hometown Dallas. The teams’ expected success is a wash, and he would have had his sidekick either way in either Dirk Nowitzki or Joe Johnson, so those arguments are null. It came down to money — now and most importantly, future earnings — and it’s not a knock on him that it did. I’m just lost as to why, if he has no personal (re: housing) stake in Brooklyn or New Jersey, he thinks the spotlight from the nation’s media and business epicenter would have ended at the Hudson River.

What do you think?

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