SLAMonline sits down with Deron Williams and Tyreke Evans.
by Cub Buenning / @cubbuenning
With the NBA Playoffs in full bloom, the national audience is being introduced to names like Russell Westbrook, Zach Randolph and Jeff Teague. The postseason gives great exposure to that portion of sports fans who don’t pay close attention to professional basketball until mid-April. For that bottom half of teams who do not qualify, their players have an expedited summer break.
League-wide, the offseason includes plenty of sleep, some afternoons in the sun and possibly some late-night sessions on the preferred gaming counsel. (Gotta keep feeding that competitive gene.) This spring, 2010’s Rookie of the Year, Tyreke Evans from Sacramento and Deron Williams, now running the show in Jersey, are on the outside looking in. Like many of their contemporaries, the two guards will both be working out in the Southern California-area. Before those long summer sessions begin, though, the two fans of the video gaming world were invited to take a sneak peak of the new Call of Duty: Black Ops Escalation.
Just minutes before battling each other, mano-y-mano, the two NBA floor generals took a few seconds to chat with SLAMonline.
SLAM: Tyreke, obviously you have a young team with some nice pieces, what do you think you guys need to do to make that next step and be playing in the postseason?
Tyreke Evans: We got to start off the season strong and finish that way. Yeah, we’re young, but I’m coming into my third year in the NBA and I’m looking forward making a good run and getting into the Playoffs.
SLAM: Deron, your status is a bit up in the air, but you have some nice pieces in Jersey, what do you think needs to happen to get you guys over the hump and into the Eastern Conference Playoff picture?
Deron Williams: Like you said, we got the young pieces, but we need some proven guys, some veterans that have been around that have won. That’s what we are going to try and accomplish in the offseason, once the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) situation works itself out.
SLAM: There are a lot of “situations” going on this offseason. Tyreke, obviously a lot has been said about your team’s potential move down south to Orange County. How do you distance yourself from all that and make sure it is not a distraction?
TE: It hasn’t been that bad on me; I’m just focused on basketball. I’ll leave that to the front office to handle, whatever’s best for them, whatever they decide to do. For me, I just want to open up the season and finish off strong.
SLAM: Deron, you got traded midway through last year (from Utah to New Jersey), do you feel like your future, long-term, is going to be in Jersey/Brooklyn?
DW: It’s a distinct possibility, but I can’t really decide anything until the new CBA comes out. I have two years left on my contract and I can opt out after the upcoming season, but all that depends on how the new CBA works. The biggest thing for me, though, is just getting guys to come there to play. I like the organization. I like the coaching staff; there’s no problem there. We just need some more pieces, because I am all about winning. I’m not really interested in being on a team that’s going to try and rebuild for years and years.
SLAM: Deron, what did you learn about this team in the last couple months you spent in Jersey?
DW: Well, we got some good big guys under contract. We have $19 million in cap space as it is, so we have room to get people, we just have to get the right people.
SLAM: Guys, as players, as fans of the game, what has stood out to you in the first couple rounds on the NBA Playoffs?
TE: I’ve watched a couple games and they have been really interesting. A couple of the teams have been playing good, Atlanta, Memphis, playing good. So, I’ve been watching it a bit here and there. But, I’ve been traveling so it’s been tough, but I’ve seen some when I’ve been getting in the gym to get some shots up.
SLAM: Does that motivate you, seeing these other guys playing in the postseason?
TE: Definitely, I really want to be in that position, to make the Playoffs. I haven’t made the Playoffs yet, so looking forward to next year to try and make that push.
SLAM: Tyreke, really quickly, I know that you spent a year in Memphis. I spent the previous year’s preseason with the Tigers (University of Memphis) and it seemed like it was a college town. But, with the Grizzlies making some positive strides, how do you see that all going down in Memphis? Can they co-exist?
TE: That’s the way it looks like now. They had that place rocking when they played San Antonio. We were back there for that and it was like a college atmosphere. The fans are definitely good down there when you are winning, so if they can keep it up.
SLAM: Deron, what about you, have you been watching the Playoffs?
DW: I have been watching them a bit off-and-on. But, I haven’t watched an entire game. If I turn one on, I will watch a bit of it. I just can’t watch too much basketball right now. Especially the Playoffs, because you know you want to be out there. But I just think it’s been an exciting Playoffs. San Antonio getting beat, Boston and Los Angeles are down early in their series, but I just think it’s a wide-open year, as far as the Playoffs are concerned.
SLAM: Deron, you spent the majority of your career in the Northwest Division, did you pay any particular attention to that Oklahoma City and Denver series?
DW: I did watch a little bit of that, but I knew that Oklahoma City would win that series. We had some good battles with Denver when I was in Utah; we were able to beat them in the Playoffs last year, but they just aren’t really a defensive team and that cost them in the Playoffs. Defense wins championships and I think that OKC is a better defensive team and that’s why they were able to have the advantage.
SLAM: Call of Duty! Have you guys been playing this game? Tyreke, are you a veteran?
TE: I’ve played it a little bit, but it’s kind of a new game to me, so I’m not the best. But, I am looking forward to playing today, trying to get better and see what I got.
SLAM: Are you a gamer in general?
TE: Oh yeah, definitely. I play a lot of sports games; Madden and all that.
SLAM: What about you Deron? Are you a Call of Duty guy or all kinds of games?
DW: Strictly Call of Duty.
SLAM: Oh yeah, for real?
DW: Yeah, I play a lot online. I played the recent campaign and beat it in two days. I had a lot of time in Jersey when I first got there without my family, so I just played all day for a couple days.
SLAM: Have you played all the campaigns or just Black Ops?
DW: I’ve played all of them. Modern Warfare, Black Ops, all of ‘em.
SLAM: So Tyreke, is it safe to say that you are in trouble? Are you facing a “ringer” tonight?
TE: I don’t know, I guess he’s played a lot so…
DW: (Interrupts) But, I haven’t played in a while, though…
TE: That’s his excuse, but he is pretty good at it, so we are just gonna see.
***For the record, the two played a series of six “battles” with Williams getting the best of Evans by a count of 4-2.***