DALLAS -- As far as Deron Williams is concerned, there’s only one little difference about this trip to his hometown.
“I usually get cheers here,” Williams said. “Now that’ll probably stop.”
Williams cracked a grin after that comment. He gets that he’s no longer known around these parts purely as one of the best basketball players ever produced by the area, joining Larry Johnson and Chris Bosh on the short list. Now the native of The Colony, a Dallas suburb, is the dude who decided that he didn’t want to play for the Mavericks when he had the chance this past summer.
Williams admits that most of the 25 or 30 people he’ll give tickets for Wednesday night’s Nets-Mavs game lobbied for him to choose Dallas when he was a free agent. He decided to move to Brooklyn with the Nets, swayed in part by the Nets pulling the trigger on a trade to acquire shooting guard Joe Johnson and his gigantic contract.
There was a little long-distance bickering between Mavs owner Mark Cuban and Williams before the season started, but Williams insists he’s not worried about that or anything else related to his free agency during this trip.
“It’s just another game for me,” Williams said before the Nets’ shootaround. “I’m glad my family and friends get a chance to come out and see the game. I’m glad I got a chance to spend a couple of days here and see people. But other than that, it’s just another game.”
It’s another game at the American Airlines Center, an arena Williams called his favorite in the league last year, pumping up hope that he’d sign with the Mavs even a little bit more.
Williams said Wednesday that he still loves this “shooter's arena.” He’s certainly performed well in front of friends and family, averaging 22.8 points and 9.0 assists while shooting 48.1 percent from the floor and 46.9 percent from 3-point range in 10 career starts at the AAC, although his team's record was just 3-7 in those games.
But Williams, who got off to a slow start this season has played his best basketball since the All-Star break, wanted no part of hyping this homecoming.
“I’m just going to try to focus on basketball tonight and not worry about anything else,” said Williams, who intends to ignore a certain courtside-sitting billionaire. “It’s another game, but it’s a big game for us. We’ve got to build on what we did last game and try to win in a tough environment.”
UPDATE: Cuban had a similar attitude when asked about how Mavs fans should treat Williams.
"I don’t care," Cuban said. "I don’t have any interest one way or another. He’s just a guy who plays on another team."