PHOENIX — Mehmet Okur didn't know how to react last month when informed he'd been traded from the Utah Jazz to the New Jersey Nets.
"To be honest, I was in shock," Okur said Friday before the Nets faced the Suns. "I never got traded before in my life, so I didn't know the feeling."
Okur wants to avoid something else when he returns to EnergySolutions Arena for the first time as a Net.
"Hopefully," he said, "they (Jazz fans) won't boo me."
Former Utah point guard Deron Williams, who expects to hear cheers and jeers aimed at him tonight, shook his head when told about Okur's worry.
"Memo won't get booed," Williams said, cracking a grin. "He didn't run the coach out like I did."
D-Will realizes Okur is one of the most beloved figures in Jazz franchise history.
The second part was a sarcastic crack about how some people blame Williams — and always will — for longtime Jazz coach Jerry Sloan's midseason resignation last February.
Ending up in New Jersey with Williams — in exchange for a $10.8 trade exception and a second-round pick — softened the trade blow for Okur, who spent seven seasons in Utah and 5 1/2 with D-Will.
"It's all good. I moved on," Okur said. "I'm really excited and happy to be here right now."
The Turkish center is also looking forward to tonight's game.
"(It's) a little bit weird, a little bit excited," the 32-year-old said, "because I'm going to be able to see my old friends and former teammates, coaching staff, everybody."
Okur cherishes his time in Utah where he averaged 15.3 points and hit 517 "Money" shots from 3-point range.
"A lot of good memories, seven years," he said. "I made the All-Star team (in 2007). I was able to break the 3-point makes in one year (129 in 2006-07). I play with a lot of good players. I worked with a lot of good coaching staff. That system and the players and coaching staff made me All-Star, better player.
"And the fans," he added, "obviously they've been always there for us and for me. I'm excited to go back and play in Utah again."
The feeling, no doubt, is mutual for Jazz fans.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: DJJazzyJody
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