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D-Will: "Definitely Make Playoffs"

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In an interview with Russia's leading sports website, Sport-Express, Deron Williams predicted that the Nets will make the playoffs and wouldn't dismiss Mikhail Prokhorov's prediction of an NBA championship by 2015.

"I am happy. I cannot wait. Last one and a half years I was in New Jersey, preparing. Everything will be fine. A team with a future, and an excellent owner. A Russian! I think this year we will have a good chance to show what we can do ... I think that this season we’ll definitely make the playoffs. I see no reason why we shouldn’t be there. Everything depends on how fast we get used to (each other as) the team.

Williams also said he knew that the Nets chances for Andrei Kirilenko were small, but seemed to imply that the Russian star would join the Nets next summer when he has a player option with the Timberwolves.

I knew that this year it was impossible ... We did not have the money he had been offered.

A full translation of the article was provided by Ekaterina Parshina of Mikhailov Partners, Prokhorov's Moscow-based public relations firm. It includes comments as well on Russian food, particularly borscht, and the difference between NBA and FIBA basketballs.

Slava Malamoud From London

- You’re Russian? Really? I do not believe, - greeted me one of the best basketball point guards in the world.

- I swear - I said, nervously. What if Deron doesn’t give exclusives to anyone who had not passed his ethnographic face control?

- Say something in Russian.

- Bear, vodka, - I answered. Reliable options. Should work. I don’t want to move to the next level of questions, which would feature a furry hat with ears and the KGB. Fortunately, Williams seemed to be satisfied with my answer.

The US team trains at the East London University, which the U.S. Olympic Committee rented for its teams during the Olympics. That’s the American scope. They rent a huge gym, hang huge portraits of all their great Olympians, let the press come in strictly on schedule. Frankly, the atmosphere is intimate. Michelle Obama was here, gave a press conference. "The dream-team" by contrast to other basketball teams, trains here exclusively, on their own schedule, doesn’t need to share the platform with anyone.

The press tiptoed into the gym, trying not to tread upon James LeBron, who has been receiving a massage right at the entrance. In front of each "dreamer" a mighty handful of recorders immediately appeared. Except of Deron Williams, who agreed to be interviewed exclusively by the Russian outlet - "Sport Express". Hence the examination of citizenship I had to pass.

- So, you are a correspondent on America? - Williams asks. Where, are you based?

- In Washington - I said. - The seat of one of the worst clubs in the NBA.

- Well, not really – he answers. – The worst is "Charlotte."

- You know it better, how many points you scored last season during one game with them? 57?

- Exactly, 57.

- Before, you scored 50 in one match with the "Besiktas". So, this year it would be some 60?

- Well, it’s enough already. This year I play in a much better team, so, hopefully there’ll be no need to score more than 50 points by myself. I hope never ever. I wish that 57 stays my best achievement.

- By the way, concerning your stay in Turkey during the lockout. "Besiktas" seemed to have retired your number. Is it really much easier to play in Europe?

- I would say not as much. You need to get used to a new team and a different type of basketball, that’s not simple. It’s very difficult in Europe to score 50 points. The match is shorter, and the judgment is quite different ...

- And what’s the difference?

- Judges are more authoritative. Defence is much tougher than in the NBA.

- How many games you had in "Besiktas" that they raised your jersey to the ceiling?

- I was very surprised. Eight games in the Turkish league. All in all, including the European tournaments, 15. They said they were very happy to get a player of my level, even for such a short period. But I think I just fitted very well to the atmosphere of the club. We had wonderful relationship with the fans. And I never tried to conceal the fact that I really liked Istanbul.

- I was told – you’re one of the major cosmopolitans in the team, almost like Kobe Bryant. You love to travel, you’re interested in other countries...

- For sure. It's terribly interesting to see the whole world. There are so many wonderful countries and unusual cultures, original food. I love it all. I was fascinated by the Turks. I terribly liked Moscow. I’ve been to many restaurants and was introduced to Russian cuisine.

- And what did you eat?

- Well, is it possible to remember the names of all the dishes? I remember one Soviet retro style restaurant…Something from the 50s. The waitresses in large dresses ... And the food ... Completely different.

- Suppose, you have tasted borscht?

- Of course!

- Never met any American who liked it.

- I’m not an exception. As the British say it’s not my cup of tea.

- Given your love for distant countries, you probably will support further participation of NBA stars in the Olympics. Am I right?

- Well, in four years I will be 32. If they really impose an age limit, this would be my last Olympics.

- What do you think about the age limit?

- I believe that everything should remain as it is. The world's best athletes should participate in the main competition of the world.

- Four years ago, you were a member of the "Redeem Team", which aim was to resuscitate the reputation of American basketball. Now the Olympic experience is probably quite different.

- Of course, now there’s less pressure, especially when you consider our latest achievements. We won Beijing, won the world championship... And then - yes, there were too many expectations. Big expectations are still there, but then we felt a huge burden on our shoulders, and it had to be removed. Now we also want to win gold - not less. To be the best team in our sport is also a great motivation.

- You ran against French like a pack of mad dogs. And they were not a weak opponent...

- The point is that we have a good defense. We know how to score, as everybody knows, but our plan is to close opponents, make them problems. Every game will be like this.

- I heard that sometimes NBA players complain about the balls and rings at the Olympics. They are not like in the NBA. What's the difference?

- Balls are more slippery. The fact is that we never get new balls in NBA. We always take already used balls - they lie better in the hand. The ring is usually tighter. You've got to aim straight into the net: If the ball touches the ring, it would more likely fall out. But you need to get used to it - you throw at a higher trajectory. That’s not that big problem. It’s like everywhere: in the student championship rings and balls are not like in school and in the NBA - not like in college. In Turkey, during my first month, I couldn’t score anything.

- I've heard you were compared to John Stockton. High praise, to be honest...

- It's because I played in the "Utah." But there will never be a second Stockton.

- Are you ready to move to New York? It is very difficult there for athletes.

- I am happy. I cannot wait. Last one and a half years I was in New Jersey, preparing. Everything will be fine. A team with a future, and an excellent owner. A Russian! I think this year we will have a good chance to show what we can do.

- When Mikhail Prokhorov bought "Nets", he made some bold statements about the future of the club: he promised playoffs in the near future, predicted that in five years, the team will compete for the champion title. It will be difficult to fit into the schedule?

- I think that this season we’ll definitely make the playoffs. I see no reason why we shouldn’t be there. Everything depends on how fast we get used to the team.

- Andrei Kirilenko, your ex-partner in "Utah", signed a contract with the "Minnesota." Many predicted that he would play with you in the Prokhorov team…

- I knew that this year it was impossible.

- Why?

- We did not have the money he had been offered.

- If it happens for you to play with Russia, the main attention will be given to him?

- No doubt. He is a member of European basketball elite. Besides, his style is particularly suitable for international basketball.

- In what exactly?

- In everything. He is a versatile basketball player, what is not common. He can fill all the columns of the statistical report: points, passing, shooting, rebounding, block-shots. Jumpy, athletic ...

- In the "Utah" in his last season somehow he was not doing well.

- He only needed a change of location. I am glad that it happened, and I wish him all the best. Will have our Kevin Love as a neighbor. Everything will be fine!

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