by Deron Williams, December 16, 2011
Everything happened so fast with the lockout ending, having to head back to set up and get ready for camp that I never really got to say a formal goodbye to everyone in Turkey.
The city and the people in Istanbul were always great to me and my family. I went over there and I wasn't really sure what to think. I knew it would be an adventure for us and it was. It had ups and downs. Most of the downs came at the beginning and the rest of it was up. It was a great experience for our entire family. We had fun doing something we otherwise wouldn't get a chance to do.
I'll definitely miss Istanbul. It was a great city. I'll miss my teammates the most. They were one of the best things about that situation for me. I had a lot of fun with the guys on and off the court. I'll definitely miss that.
The jersey retirement at the end there was a great gesture. I don't think 15 games, no matter where you play, warrants a retirement, but I understand why they did it. They were appreciative of the way I embraced the experience and connected with the people.
I'll never forget how the Turkish people treated me and how they embraced me. I just happened to be at dinner the other night with Coach Johnson, and two Turkish guys were in there. They came up and were talking to me. They said they appreciated what I did for their country. The best part was that one of them was a Fenerbahce fan and the other was a Galatasaray fan, but they put that aside with me and liked me because of how I played when I was there.
The city and the people in Istanbul were always great to me and my family. It took us a little while to get situated, but I liked everything about it. I was comfortable living there for a whole year if the lockout had lasted that long and I would've been content with that. To go over, play basketball, live abroad and have my family experience that with me was a once in a lifetime opportunity. It's probably not something I'll get to do again because of my career in the NBA. I'm definitely glad I got a chance to do it.
TIME IS UP
I got the news that the lockout was over on a Saturday morning in Istanbul. We'd played a game a day earlier and I had just woken up when the meeting got out. I woke up to Twitter and a whole bunch of messages saying "come home, lockout's over." I called my agent and he was actually asleep because the news broke so late. He didn't know until I told him.
At that point we had to confirm that it was a done deal. Once we found out it was, that's when I went ahead and started making plans. I had to rush it a little bit because I had to find a place to live before training camp started. I couldn't just come here and jump back into things because I have a family.
My wife and I came back to look for a place to live and we found a place within a couple days. Then she went back to Turkey so the kids can finish school and she can pack up.
We were looking originally for something more on the Upper West Side, but we picked out a place in Soho, and I really like the area a lot. It's close to the tunnel, so travelling into Jersey for games isn't an issue. Right now, I'm having a good time living in the city, and I've been to a couple great restaurants since I've been here. Luckily, I'm familiar with New York. It was always one of my favorite cities even before I got traded here. There's just so much going on at all times, and I love the area we're set up in, so it's great.
I just can't wait until my wife and the kids get back on Sunday. I miss them a lot. It's been two weeks since I've seen them, so I'm excited for them to get back here, and I know they're excited. It'll be good to have everyone back for the holiday. We've got our first game on the 26th and we're leaving on Christmas, but not until later in the day, so at least I'll get to spend Christmas morning with them.
WATCH THE THRONE
Before camp started I got the chance to go visit my little brother Kendall in Dallas last week and watch him play for my alma mater The Colony. I hadn't seen him play in a high school game because usually we're playing NBA games throughout their season. I've seen him play AAU but never high school so it was great to do that, and they won by 30.
As an added bonus, I got to bring him to the Jay-Z and Kanye West "Watch the Throne" concert that night in Dallas. We got there like 20 minutes late because of his game, he had to get dressed and then we had to head into downtown Dallas, but it was worth it. The concert was amazing. Kanye and Jay definitely killed it. The concert was at least two hours and 30 minutes long, and they put on a heck of a performance, didn't disappoint anybody. They give people their money's worth.
It was technically my second concert I've ever been to. The other one was at a small venue in Boise, Idaho, during Jazz training camp -- we saw Lil Wayne. I guess you could consider that a concert, but I don't. This one just blew that one off the map. It wasn't even close to the same.
After the concert, Jay brought us back to his dressing room and I talked to him for about 30 minutes while he was eating. My brother got a chance to meet Jay-Z and Beyonce, which was worth the whole experience. He was so excited. Then Jay took us over to meet Kanye and my brother was so happy. That made his night. He had a great time.
BACK TO BASKETBALL
Everybody is happy that we're getting back to playing. Walking down the street in New York, I hear it from people. Everybody is just excited and ready for the season to start.
I was in Turkey for almost three months playing actual games, and I feel like that will be beneficial to me when the season opens. A lot of guys have to get into game shape, but I'm in game shape and ready to play.
I just want to help this team as much as possible. I don't care about all the accolades. I just want to win. I want to get this team back to the playoffs, and that's all I can really worry about. I'm looking forward to playing basketball in the NBA. It's been almost eight months. I'm ready to get back in the swing of things. There's nothing like the NBA.
The season is going to be tough. The schedule is crazy. Just looking at it makes your body hurt. It's kind of hard to put into words how tough it is going to be just on a night-to-night basis. So many back-to-backs, especially to start the season. Almost every game is a back-to-back. You've got six games in eight nights, and then you have those back-to-back-to-backs.
When you look at the calendar, there's barely anything open. Most days we have games. And those days that are blank are mostly travel days, so there isn't going to be much practicing going on this season. But everybody in the league is going to be going through the same thing. It's even. Everybody has a tough schedule. The good news is we're a young, well-conditioned team, so I think we should be in good shape. I think I'm the oldest player on the team at 27, so we should be able to get out there and run and not be too tired. But it just depends on how we come together and how we mold as a team.
Camp has been going well so far. It's going quick because we're trying to fit a lot of stuff into a short amount of time since we play on Saturday against the Knicks in a preseason game. We've also got all these trade rumors swirling around, and that has to be tough on the players involved. But they've been very professional about it, and everybody is coming to work. That's the biggest thing. Everybody is coming to work trying to get better.
I'm ready to kick off this season and get going. It's been a long offseason and i'm just ready to play.
Ready to win.