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Utah Jazz: Fans have mixed reactions on Deron Williams' return

By Chris Peterson

for the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Jan. 14 2012 10:49 a.m. MST

Deron Williams #8 of the New Jersey Nets drives against Anthony Carter#25 of the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 30, 2011 in New York City. The Knicks defeated the Nets 120-116.

Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images

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Very few know exactly what transpired behind the scenes in the Utah Jazz organization in the events that culminated in Deron Williams being traded.

The deal that sent the all-star point guard, who is undoubtedly one of the best in the NBA, prompted countless emotions almost a year ago.

With the New Jersey Nets in town to play the Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena tonight, it marks the first time Williams has returned to his former home court since the trade. But it's like he left just yesterday, as even now, Jazz fans possess strong opinions on the matter.

One of the reasons Jazz diehards are so passionate about Williams' departure is the unmistakable link between the trade and the abrupt retirement of beloved Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan, who had led the team for 23 seasons. Sloan retired less than a month before Williams was shipped off to the East Coast.

When considering whether fans at tonight's game will boo when Williams is announced with a Nets uniform on, Orem's Jason Lammers doesn't hesitate.

"I hope so; I would if I was there," he said.

Jordan Ritchie of Highland was a bit more calculated with his response. Although his answer is tinged with some bitterness toward Williams, he feels like he deserves the benefit of the doubt.

"I want to look at his attitude; I want to see how he acts, to see if he's changed," Ritchie said, adding that Williams acted "a little selfish" in his last days in Utah preceding the trade.

Sitting with a pair of friends, American Fork's Brad Taysom is the only one among the three that claims to be a true sports fan. And like most sports fans, he leaves no question as to what thinks.

As for his thoughts on Williams, it's a simple matter. He points the finger of blame squarely at the two-time All-Star and 2008 Olympics gold medal winner.

"We don't know everything that happened, but from what we do know, the evidence clearly shows that he was a big reason that (Sloan) left," Taysom said.

"I think (Williams) will earn the crowd's reaction," Taysom said.

Ritchie says that realistically, all the blame doesn't belong on Williams, but at the same time, he should bear some of responsibility.

"Who knows what happened, but there's probably more under the surface than we know," Ritchie said.

As for Clearfield's Nick Thompson, who describes himself as "a sports fans in general," Williams' return to Utah is fun in that it generates buzz.

"I'm excited for him to come back; it should be a good game," Thompson said. "He's a good player, so it should be interesting."

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