Deron Williams calls 3 years with Nets 'some of the hardest in my life'
Deron Williams is feeling more like himself again in a new start with the Mavericks after three tumultuous seasons in Brooklyn that made the three-time All-Star doubt his passion for the game.
"It took a lot out of me, man, those three years. Some of the hardest in my life," Williams told Yahoo Sports' Michael Lee in a candid interview about his time in Brooklyn and new life in Dallas. "Made me question if I even wanted to play basketball when I was done with that contract."
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Williams, who played two seasons with the New Jersey Nets, signed a five-year, $98.7 million deal to stay in New York as the Nets moved to Brooklyn's Barclays Center in 2012.
Under pressure to become a franchise star as well as live up to the lofty expectations set by owner Mikhail Prokhorov and the unforgiving New York fan base, Williams now says if he could go back and change anything about hi
"I wish I wouldn’t have been hurt. I wish I would’ve played better and people didn’t feel like I was just stealing money," Williams told Yahoo Sports. "That’s the last thing I want people to feel like. It didn’t work out the way anybody had hoped."
After just one playoff series win, two first-round exits and much roster drama, Williams received a $27.5 million buyout for the final two seasons of his contract this summer and is in the process of revitalizing his career as a complementary player in Dallas. The 31-year-old guard is averaging 15.1 points, 5.9 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.6 three-pointers and 2.3 turnovers per game.
"It’s easy now. I’m past that point in my life where I care about All-Star games. Honestly, I’d rather have the rest during All-Star break anyway," Williams told Yahoo Sports ahead of Wednesday's return to the Barclays Center.
"It’s about winning. It's about having fun. It’s been a while since I had fun playing basketball. I’m just relishing this opportunity to have fun. I’m just glad I’m here and feeling better about everything."