So once Nets coach Jason Kidd found out point guard Deron Williams would be available for the matchup after missing the previous five games with an ankle injury, he would obviously be inserted right back into the starting lineup, right?
Not if Williams had something to say about it.
A minutes limit for Williams was certainly expected, but the former All-Star took things a step further and asked Kidd if he could come off the bench during one of MLK Day’s earlier NBA games. And it turned out to be a brilliant decision by both parties, as the Nets easily took care of the Knicks, 103-80.
“That was my idea,” said Williams after contributing 13 points, three rebounds and three assists in a little under 30 minutes of action.
“Just because we’ve been playing so well with that lineup, why shake things up?. It doesn’t matter if I come off the bench or start. Whatever. The way Joe [Johnson]‘s been playing in first quarters and first halves, I don’t want to disrupt that.”
Williams had plenty of spring to his step after recently receiving platelet-rich plasma treatment on his ankles a few weeks back, however, he still desired to come off the bench for the first time since his rookie season of 2005-06 because his team’s recent success without him. How often do players with nearly $100 million contracts choose to be so selfless?
About as often as you see a bicyclist beat a car in a race. And for that, Williams deserves to be commended.
Someone who deserves just as much praise is Kidd. He would’ve received the utmost blame for utilizing such a high-salary player in a reserve role if they lost, but that was the very last thing on his mind behind wondering which tie he isn’t going to wear on the sideline for the next game.
It took an enormous deal of humility and guts by both Williams and Kidd, respectively, to make the decisions they did. That definitely must be acknowledged.