By Sam Rubenstein

Our friends from SONY hooked up the chance to talk to Utah Jazz superstar PG Deron Williams in the hours leading up to the the Playstation Skills Challenge. Deron is getting ready for the big showdown tonight by practicing with the video game NBA ’08. Wrap your head around this circular logic: Deron is a real life basketball player, training for real life using a video game simulation, but the company that makes the simulation also sponsors the real life event… wait I’m confused.

Anyways, tonight is the skills challenge. I sat with Deron as he trained. The interview was interrupted with lots of bursts of Aaaaaah! when he’d mess up, and I respect his level of focus. There’s nothing worse than having someone force you to talk to them when you’re trying to play a video game. But Deron was a good sport.
SLAM: Have you been practicing for tonight at all?

DERON: Nothing extra in real life. This is it right here. I’m practicing with this game.

S: Are you nervous?

D: Oh yeah, I’m nervous. I think I’m gonna miss the shot, maybe a bad pass or something.

S: How much does this mean to you? How badly do you want to win?

D: Well, I’m a competitor. I always want to win at whatever I do. Basketball, golf, I suck at golf. But I don’t want to lose, man.

S: You always seem to be associated with someone else, the great team at Illinois, always tied to Chris Paul or Carlos Boozer. Is this your big night where you get to say I’m Deron Williams dammit!

D: (chuckles) It’s more about going out there and having fun. I want to go out there and give the fans a good show. I would like to be playing in the All-Star Game but since that didn’t happen this year, my chance to perform is right here.

S: What if you win and people find out you were using this game to train?

D: I won’t tell them I was playing the game.

If Deron wins, do we have another spygate on our hands? We’ll see. He’s predicting Dwyane Wade as the winner tonight, which would make it three years in a row. Taking the pressure off himself, playing the underdog card. Nice move. I asked a question that came out as “So, no Larry Bird everybody else is playing for second place trash talk from you?” He just stared and said no. This was focused, intensive training. Best of luck tonight, Deron.