With the All-Star break finally here, I want to focus on two former all-star teammates that went in the same direction…down. I feel this slide happened when they lost their greatest basketball resource. Former Utah Jazz coach, Jerry Sloan. Looking at these two players last night really gives a testament to how well Jerry Sloan could coach. Understand that Sloan NEVER won the “Coach of the Year” award. He never won a NBA title even though he coached two teams to the Finals. They just happened to run into a player that likes winning titles almost as much as he liked breathing named Michael Jordan. Let’s put this in perspective, after Coach Sloan retired, the bottom has fallen out on this franchise. The Jazz, maybe seeing the error of their ways of letting the man go, asked him back as an Senior Advisor. Well there are two players that need to ask Sloan back as an advisor, Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer.
When they were a tandem in Utah, it was beautiful. Those two ran the pick and roll to perfection. They were respected as rising stars in the NBA. They were All-Star shoo ins and they were the backbone of a perennial playoff team. Now they are looked at as overpaid, overrated players that deep down if their teams were honest, would trade them out-of-town with the quickness. What happened? These players have made a lot of money signing huge contracts with other teams, but a what price? Pippen Aint Easy takes you on a journey of two careers.
There was always something about Deron Williams that seemed strange when it came to his career. When he was playing college ball with Illinois, he wasn’t the best player on the team. Dee Brown at the time was winning all of the awards and gaining all of the accolades. In 2004 after losing in the NCAA National Championship game, both Dee Brown and Deron Williams were going to the NBA draft. Brown however broke his foot in the pre-draft camp and went back to Illinois. Williams got drafted one spot ahead of Chris Paul. Then the debate began, who was the better point guard? Deron Williams had the NBA body along with the efficient game to go with it (at the time anyway.) Everyone loved the way Deron Williams ran the pick and roll. Maybe he started drinking the Kool-Aid. Maybe he thought he was better than he was. One night at halftime during a game Williams got into it with Sloan over an issue that has not been confirmed to this day. Coach Sloan retired the very next day on February 7, 2011. Sloan denies that Williams forced him out. Whatever the reason, Deron Williams was dealt to the then New Jersey Nets almost two weeks later. Since Sloan was revered in NBA circles, Deron Williams character took hits. Then he started to get hurt. Some started to accuse him for not working as hard and not being in shape. In 2012, Jerry Colangelo the architect of the Olympic squad insinuated that Williams was not in shape and that is why he is so injury prone. Ouch! When the Nets moved to Brooklyn and signed Brook Lopez, and brought in Joe Johnson, things were supposed to be looking up. However, Avery Johnson was fired December 27, 2012. Word around the campfire was that Williams pushed him out. Sound familiar? Deron Williams denied those accusations. Since then, his game has been sloppy, he doesn’t run the offense instead he looks for his own shot. Do you think he’s compared to Chris Paul now?
Carlos Boozer’s exit was a little different. The Chicago Bulls were trying to build a championship contender and thought Boozer could be one of the final pieces to the puzzle. Things were okay under the Vinny Del Negro regime, he could score and grab a few rebounds and get his picture in the paper. Then Vinny Del Negro was fired and Tom Thibodeau took over. As we all know defense is first, second and third on Thibodeau’s to do list. Couple that with some guy named Derrick Rose coming in and taking over, Boozer started looking like an overrated player making a lot of money for average numbers. He got exposed for his deficiencies that have been shown to this day. In his days in Utah, he was one the go to guys in the clutch. Now in Chicago, he’s in his warm ups with a towel around his neck watching Taj Gibson play better than him.
Last night, these two may be on their way to oblivion and they may not even know it. The big story for the Bulls was Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah along with Jimmy Butler getting into it with Joe Johnson. The only storyline for Boozer was would he start or not. As for Deron Williams he scored 13 points on 4-14 shooting for a diseased Brooklyn Nets offense. Who’s his coach? Jason Kidd who has brought chaos to a franchise that was to contend for a championship. To watch Deron Williams point guard skills erode is sad to see. Carlos becoming an amnesty candidate is sad. It makes you wonder what could have happened under Sloan’s tutelage. Fellas all I’m saying is you better call Jerry Sloan! Call him!
I’ll let you use my phone.