TNT analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal blasted Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams on Thursday night. Following Nets coach Avery Johnson's firing, Barkley said it's time for Williams to "put up or shut up," while O'Neal said he needs to "look in the mirror."
"He's got the reputation of getting coaches fired," Barkley said. "Whatever happened in Utah [head coach Jerry Sloan resigned], it happened. Whatever happened in Brooklyn, it happened. This is all on Deron Williams right now. It's time to put up or shut up."
"Sometimes before great players point fingers, they should look in the mirror," O'Neal said. "This is the first time I've heard the guy with the ball at all times say that he doesn't like the offense. My advice is for him to look in the mirror and see if he's doing enough. At times, I think he's trying to do too much. There are only 24 seconds on the shot clock and he spends 10-12 seconds dribbling between his legs. He needs to get everyone else involved and himself involved. ... He's not really playing that well."
Williams responded to Barkley and Shaq's criticism on Friday.
"That's how things go nowadays," Williams said. "As soon as something happens, somebody's gotta take the blame, and I guess that guy is me. I can't fight everything that's being said, and I'm not gonna try. I know my teammates have my back."
Williams already had told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith he knew he'd get blamed for Johnson's ouster following the team's 14-14 start but said it wasn't his fault.
"First of all, I have not had one conversation with [Nets GM Billy King] about not being happy with Avery, wanting him gone, etc.," Williams said. "It's not my fault. But as soon as I heard the news, I knew what was coming. I knew folks would blame me, would assume that it's history repeating itself because of what was said about Coach Sloan and me after he resigned.
"The last thing I would want to do is get Coach Johnson fired. Any coach, for that matter.
"Coach Johnson is a big reason why I came back to the Nets this summer, along with Billy. I enjoyed playing for him last year. We never had a argument or a fight. We never got into it, on or off the court. I don't even know why people would assume that."
Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.