It's not great controversy to state that the New Jersey Nets had a bad season in 2011-12. On top of winning just 22 of their 66 games, they seemed to suffer under the weight of losing and looking ahead to their high-profile move to Brooklyn. Whatever the case, it was not an ideal situation, and there was little energy surrounding the club.
Last week, point guard Deron Williams claimed that several players in the locker room were not focused on the task at hand. Not surprisingly, one of those players was not happy with his comments. The outspoken DeShawn Stevenson, now a member of the Atlanta Hawks, fired back on Twitter (via SLAM):
I hate Fake M----f-----s That Quit On team but talk [expletive] in Espn Mag .
I hear ppl laughing but they ain't talking!!! Win One Shots Fired
If u gonna say ppl Quit say Names I Don't Quit I work hard period when u say that my name in it and I work hard I don't quit!!!
Say Names Put Address on It!!!!
I'm not sure why Stevenson is referring to ESPN the Magazine, but these comments sure do seem directed towards Williams. Stevenson has never been quiet with his opinions, including during his longstanding, somewhat ridiculous feud with LeBron James. No one should expect him to back down, particularly when his effort has (indirectly) been called into question.
Really, this was poor form from Williams even if his comments were 100 percent accurate. Questioning teammates' effort is effectively questioning their commitment to their careers, which is the kind of thing sure to rub people the wrong way. Plus, the modern NBA is such that Williams could play with many of these guys again, if he's not playing with them this year, as well. (As point of reference, he also played with Stevenson in Utah.) The question is if it's more important to speak one's mind than to foster positive relationships.
Williams is trying to be a leader and get people to give their all. But, as always, there's a thin line between motivating and being a bit of a jerk. Stevenson shouldn't have voiced his displeasure in public, either, but it's hard to argue he wasn't provoked.