Utah Jazz: Life in a fishbowl tough, players say

Published: Thursday, Nov. 18 2010 11:00 p.m. MST

Less than four years after a storybook wedding in Paris, Eva Longoria filed court papers Wednesday to divorce basketball star Tony Parker, citing irreconcilable differences.

Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — It's no secret that the personal life of Tony Parker — the All-Star player and soon-to-be former husband of Eva Longoria — has taken on the form of "a real-life soap opera, seemingly lifted from the plot of 'Desperate Housewives,'" as aptly described in the San Antonio News-Express.

Salacious reports of how and why the marriage that joined the Hollywood and hoops worlds at the altar three years ago was about to dissolve quickly spread like wildfire from TMZ and Twitter to tabloids to, yes, even sports sections and shows — and everywhere in between.

A cloud of gossip, no doubt, will follow the Spurs from Texas to Utah, where they play the Jazz tonight at EnergySolutions Arena.

That's because when it comes to athletes and celebrities and juicy rumors involving them — whether true or false — enquiring minds want to know, as the old slogan goes.

Without referencing the Parker-Longoria situation — he even offered up a preemptive "no comment," to distance himself — Deron Williams conceded that reality exists. But the Jazz's biggest star doesn't like the invasive evolution of how players' professional and personal lives can become mixed and dissected by media and then offered to public consumption.

"But that's how it is. It's the world we live in," Williams said. "It's a messed-up world."

In a 50-second interview before Wednesday's Bulls-Spurs game, Parker admitted that he and the soon-to-be ex-Mrs. Parker were experiencing "a difficult time," according to the Express-News. But no explanations or details of the divorce recently filed for by Longoria were offered.

"Anything else," Parker said, "is our private life."

That's how it should be, Williams insists. He's among the group that believes on-the-court and off-the-court lives should be kept separate.

"We're paid to play basketball," he said, "not to sell our lives."

Williams is very private when it comes to his family, and he intends to keep it that way. The team captain said "a big reason" he took down his Twitter account last year is that he didn't think people needed to know personal stuff, like where he was and what he was doing. Anybody who tries to pry too deeply into this 26-year-old's life will be in for a less-than-cordial response. His frank warning to private-info-seeking intruders: "I'm a rude person when I need to be, and I'll be very rude."

Then again, Williams might not be the rude one in the conversation, depending on how much nitty and gritty someone might be trying to dig up.

Generally speaking, Jerry Sloan takes that same moral stance. The Jazz coach doesn't believe coaches' and players' personal lives are anybody else's beeswax.

"I don't think it's really any of their business, that's my personal feeling," said Sloan, who'll miss tonight's game to attend a family funeral. "You should be able to go on with your life and try to do the best you can. A lot of people aren't perfect."

The only time Sloan will make an exception and perhaps get more involved, he added, is if personal matters turn into "something that hurts your team."

Parker made certain that didn't happen Wednesday, when he scored 21 points with seven assists to help San Antonio improve its record to 9-1 with a 17-point comeback win over Chicago. He hardly acted distracted.

"I'm having great support from my teammates and my coaches," Parker told media before the game. "I'll focus 100 percent on the Spurs and try to win basketball games."

Whenever details of players' personal affairs are made public, whatever they may be, Sloan is left to wonder: "How true is all of this stuff that they're saying?" And does it even matter to anybody but those involved in the situation?

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