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Critics place the spotlight back on Deron Williams; How will he respond?

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Unless you are keenly tuned into "all things Nets" then you were probably unaware of this issue. After all, it's been three years, and it's failed to register on the national and local (to some degree) radar. It's an issue that only beat writers, bloggers, and fans routinely find themselves writing and tweeting about, and it would have probably continued to go unnoticed had a certain someone not spoken his version of the "truth".

When Paul Pierce blew the whistle last week during his in-depth interview with ESPN's Jackie MacMullen, frustrated Nets' fans suspicions and theories regarding Deron Williams were finally validated. Well, the domino effect that has been created from Pierce's candidness has finally shed light on the issue that's been hidden in the shadows of New York's outer borough.

The "luxury" that Williams has been able to enjoy for the past three years was that much attention wasn't paid to the Nets on a national level. Poor play and underachievement tends to go unnoticed.  That luxury seems to be no more.

Even here in the New York area, sports talk-radio shows (with the exception of a few hosts) rarely dedicate any time to the team from Brooklyn. Had he been a member of the crosstown rival Knicks, criticism on the radio airwaves and newspaper back pages would never cease to let up.

Whether it was Reggie Miller speaking with Mike Francesa, to Isiah Thomas on NBATV's postgame show following Game 1, to Jay Williams and Stephen A. Smith on ESPN's Mike and Mike, it seems that everyone, near and far, has joined in on the conversation. Now that the cat is out of the bag, what does Deron Williams plan on doing about it?

With a lackluster performance in the series opener and the criticism pouring in from NBA pundits, all eyes should be on the former All-Star point guard for the rest of this series. He's been accused of not being held accountable, unable to handle the bright lights, being disengaged on the court and on the bench, not wanting to lead, and unwilling to do what it takes to win.

Nets fans that were hoping for an instant spark following Pierce's comments were left disappointed. Now that the national media has taken notice, it's up to Williams to either silence his critics or continue to allow his reputation to fester.

If the Nets hope to get back into this series against the Hawks and advance to the next round, they better hope this is what finally gets their wet log to catch fire.

Allen Robertson is the editor of We Must Be Nets.