Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams is enjoying the increased public profile that comes with being the signature star of New York City's newest and coolest professional sports club, appearing on magazine covers, getting spotted pushing a bright yellow Lamborghini on the streets of New York and taking the opportunity to speak his mind on whatever topic he pleases. On Sunday, he also used the spotlight to try to raise money for autism programs, appearing as one of a host of celebrities on Comedy Central's "Night of Too Many Stars."
The event has raised more than $14 million to date to benefit "programs across the country in support of individuals with autism that desperately need quality services" through charitable partner New York Collaborates for Autism. Some celebrities man telephones, taking donations from viewers; others contribute rare and autographed memorabilia to be auctioned off; and others offer premium services on which donors could bid, like comedian Aziz Ansari pledging to take over a user's Twitter account for 15 minutes and Conan O'Brien promising to host an episode of his talk show with an orange spray tan and his hair in corn rows if he could raise $100,000 for autism programs.
Williams' involvement fell into the latter category, and should make the Nets' season-opening contest against the New York Knicks just a bit more ridiculous, according to Tim Bontemps of the New York Post:
Williams told viewers that if they could raise $100,000, he would wear one of three temporary tattoos on Opening Night at Barclays Center against the Knicks Nov. 1. The viewers could text in one of three choices: the face of actress Betty White, the "dramatic chipmunk" of YouTube fame or the face of Russian comedian Yakof Smirnoff.
After his appearance on the broadcast, Williams — clearly no fan of "What a country!" humor or the genus Tamias — put his thumb on the scale a bit, enlisting his more than 282,000 Twitter followers to not only give generously, but cast their votes for the Golden Girl:
Perhaps as a result, as Bontemps notes, "When the telecast ended, Betty White was the runaway leader with over 70 percent of the vote, with voting set to go through the night." I'm not sure if Monday morning ballots will still be counted, but I tossed my $25 in for Betty today, and it looks like you can still donate, too. The event as a whole reportedly raised more than $3.7 million, which sure looks like more than $100,000 to me, so the expectation is that Williams will be a sport and wear the temporary tattoo out for tip-off. Besides, it's not like it'll be the worst tattoo in Nets history. Not by a long shot.
One last note: Williams isn't the first person associated with the Nets to help out with the "Night of Too Many Stars" — as BDL Editor Kelly Dwyer reminded me this morning, way back in the long, long ago (2008, to be precise), TrueHoop noted former New Jersey Nets coach Lawrence Frank ("or someone who looks just like him") donating $10,000 to the fundraising effort. You know, in case you needed a reason to root for the Detroit Pistons this season that had nothing to do with Greg Monroe or Andre Drummond.
Hat-tip to r/nba.