November 29, 2011
Of the NBA players who signed in Europe during the lockout, All-Star point guard Deron Williams(notes) easily stood out as the best player in the bunch. When he signed with Besiktas in Turkey, it suggested that Europe could be a legitimate option for the best players in the world. While no other players of that caliber ended up crossing the pond, Williams still stands out as an important figure in the history of Americo-European basketballular relations.
That said, he only played 15 games in Turkey. Which makes it somewhat shocking that Besiktas has retired his No. 8 jersey. You can watch the video above and read more from Barry Petchesky at Deadspin:
The TBL is especially hard-hit by the resumption of the NBA, with Zaza Pachulia(notes), Thabo Sefolosha(notes), Semih Erden(notes) and Mehmet Okur(notes) returning to their American teams. It's not all bad, though: Sasha Vujacic(notes) will stay with his Turkish team through the end of the year.
Those links go to the Besiktas website, which you'll probably have a hard time reading unless you read Turkish. Nevertheless, it seems as if the club honored and appreciated Williams' service quite a bit. He must have had quite an effect on everyone during his short time in the country. Maybe he expressed real interest in learning more about the historical significance of Mt. Ararat.
This decision may seem a little ridiculous, which it undoubtedly is. But it's also typical of Besiktas' approach to the NBA's lost summer as a whole. In addition to Williams, it courted players like Kobe Bryant(notes), and had a deal in place to sign Lamar Odom(notes) shortly before the lockout ended. It clearly appreciates American stars, and this gift to Williams just emphasizes that.
Plus, once the NBA starts back up again, it can unretire the jersey and give it to a worthy player. It's not like anyone will notice.
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