14 January 2012
(Photo via Michael Brandy, Deseret News)
As much as I wish I could say so, I haven’t been a Jazz fan my whole life. I’m 19 years old right now, and have only been a diehard since 8th grade. I followed the Jazz when I was younger thanks to the Jr. Jazz program, but didn’t maintain much interest as I started my teenage years. That all changed when I moved from Farmington Utah, up to good ole’ Cache Valley. I moved a few days before school started, so I had no friends. As I desperately tried to find new friends, I remember having a class with a kid who I had seen at church. All I knew about him was he loved the Jazz. I wasn’t much of a fan of sitting alone at lunch, so I decided to look into the Jazz so I could talk to him about. I remember going to the Utah Jazz website and reading that the Jazz had started 4-0, so asked him about it the next day. With that friendship was born, and with that also a passionate fandom. I owe my friend Nathan Sproul (@sproul13 on Twitter) my soul when it comes to being a Jazz fan, I won’t forget that Nathan. But I’m not here to thank him today; I’m here to thank Deron Williams.
My first memory of Deron isn’t too exciting. “A ball-hog who is good at threes” Those were the first words I heard describing Deron Williams, as a different friend (this is before I moved) told me about the rookie guard as we headed to a Jazz game one March evening. It was Karl Malone jersey retirement that night, the only reason I was going. The Jazz lost that game vs the Wizards, I don’t think it was even close. I don’t remember much about Deron playing, just that the opposing team hitting three after three. I didn’t watch any other games that season.
Fast forward to the 06-07 season when the Jazz make an unbelievable run into the Western Conference Finals, my first year as a diehard fan. (What a season to get hooked, eh?) I remember being amazed by Deron’s play, especially throughout that playoff run, when he leaped over Boozer as my favorite Jazz player. I won’t ever forget that game winner vs the Warriors. I watched that game at my neighbors since I didn’t have the channel. I remember jumping off the couch when he dunked on Oberto the next round, even though the game was pretty much over. I remember his incredible game when we slaughtered the Spurs in game 3 of the WCF, which I listened to most of on the radio. After losing to the Spurs, despite being sad I couldn’t help but be excited for the bright future Williams had, I was right.
(Photo Via Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
The next few seasons were amazing to say the least. It was probably the Hornets game, where Deron crossed Chris Paul and slammed on Tyson Chandler, that made me become an obsessive fan of his, at “Man Crush” levels even. Every persuasive essay I wrote in English, was me proving why D-Will as better than CP3 (Always scored good grades on them). I mastered that argument. I bought a jersey from each team he ever played for (HS, College, NBA, All Star, Olympic) and even got them all signed (that was hard). D-Will even had a shrine in my room, constantly weirding my family out.
Man, I’ll never forget his shots either. All the clutch ones, he had so many. That go to crossover jumper, the one we saw him use on Kobe, Allen, Terry, and so many others. There were not many players I have watched who want to win more than Deron, and unfortunately that’s part of why he’s gone.
When you watched Deron it was hard not to love his will to win. However, the same didn’t go for the stubbornness that came along with it. I didn’t have a problem with it, because he was leading our team to the playoffs each year. Then last season came along. Not exactly the fresh start some of us expected. When I try to think of a word to describe last season, “frustrating” comes to mind. It was frustrating to the players, coaches, fans, the entire Utah Jazz organization, and especially to Deron Williams. It wasn’t hard to tell, since his play often matched his mind.
I was in school when the trade went down. David Locke tweeted about it and I got the message through a text. I remember just sitting there, in complete disbelief. I didn’t have a clue what was happening, and why it was. I spent the rest of the day talking to my friends about it, trying to figure out whether we had done something good, or something really bad. But I’m not going to talk about whether I think it was the right move or not (it was) or whether I think Deron forced Sloan out (He played a role), I’m here to thank Deron.
(Photo via Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
Some of Deron’s best work goes unnoticed for some, as it didn’t come on the court. Deron founded his own charity, the Point of Hope Foundation, a program that helps children in need. Deron hosted many golf tournaments for charity, he and Korver also started the Dodge Barrage, another charity driven event. I’m sure it doesn’t end there either. Sometimes people forget that basketball is just a sport at the end of the day, and there are more important things in life, Deron Williams didn’t.
With that, I’d like to thank Deron. Thanks for crossovers, thanks for the dunks. Thanks for hitting big time shots and winning big time games. Thanks for leading us on fun and exciting playoff runs. Thanks for everything, on and off the court. I won’t forget what you did for this community. Thank you D-Will.
(Photo via Michael Brandy, Deseret News)
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