Like Game 4, Game 7 Loss Falls on Deron Williams
Moke Hamilton , NBA Analyst
NEW YORK — The life of an NBA superstar is a never ending game of second guessing and being asked “What have you done for me lately?”
But that comes with the territory.
Those that call themselves superstars are treated like rock stars. They are paid handsomely and you know how that old saying goes… To whom much is given, much is required.
When the game is on the line and the clock is ticking, there is no doubt that Kobe Bryant wants the ball. LeBron James, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose… You name them.
But this past season, when the going has gotten tough on the Nets, Williams has seemed all too happy with falling back and allowing others to rescue—or attempt to rescue—the Nets from the abyss.
Ask anyone whether or not they can recall Joe Johnson making a game winning shot this season and they will look at you as if you are insane.
Ask the same question of Williams and that same person will, at least, think long and hard.
The statistical revolution has changed the way we watch basketball. Numbers are recorded, analyzed and handed out. After the fact, even a cursory glance at the box score of Saturday night’s Game 7 would indicate that Williams had a strong game. 24 points, six rebounds, seven assists. He shot 8-for-17 from the field in what was an efficient enough performance.
But when the game was on the line and when the Nets found themselves outworked and outhustled by Tom Thibodeau’s team to the tune of a 17-point halftime deficit, it was Gerald Wallace who came to their rescue in the third quarter.
And it was that deficit that was ultimately insurmountable for the Nets. In the locker room afterward, Wallace was noticeably frustrated with his teammate’s effort and their being outworked by the undermanned Bulls team. Wallace did not say names, but accountability usually starts with the team’s top gun.
Here is the truth as it relates to the point guard who just so happens to be his team’s best player: you simply cannot over-defer to your teammates and you absolutely cannot do so when your season is on the line in a Game 7.
Steve Nash, Chris Paul and even Jason Kidd— knew when, where and how to dominate a game. Occasionally, if an opposing coach was hell bent on not double teaming you and allowing you to have your way with the defense, you may have to have one of those nights where you say “Forget passing, I’m going for 40.”
Saturday night, for Williams, was one of those nights. With Nate Robinson guarding him and the Nets season on the line, Williams should not have left his team’s fate in the hands of others. That is the mandate of a superstar.
Back on April 30, Chris Paul totaled just 35 points and four assists in a playoff game against the Memphis Grizzlies. His Clippers happened to lose the game—and the series. But the point remains, being a franchise player is not always about getting other teammates involved.
At times, the most talented player on the floor, regardless of his position, needs to step up, take over, and will his team to victory.
In Game 4, Williams let that opportunity pass him by. In Game 7, history repeated itself.
No, Williams cannot win all alone. But anyone who has watched the Nets consistently over the course of this inaugural season in Brooklyn would be hard-pressed to disagree: All too often, Wiliams does not seem to want it.
All too often, he fails to be the best player on the floor, even when his team needs it.
If the Nets are to get to the next level, that is something that Williams needs to figure out. If not, the well-kept secret may soon be out: Williams just may not want it badly enough.
After Game 7, nobody could doubt whether or not Joakim Noah did. And nobody could question Nate Robinson’s effort.
“It’s disappointing,” Williams said of the Game 7 loss. “[Joakim] Noah is a warrior, he battled through his injuries. He had a monster game and we really had no answer for him tonight.”
Being the most talented player on the floor, Tom Thibodeau should have been saying that about Williams when it was all said and done.
But instead, it is the Bulls who are on their way to Miami to do battle with LeBron James and his Heat.
It is a disappointing end to the inaugural season in Brooklyn. And if this team is to fare better in the future, it all starts with No. 8—the most talented player in the locker room.