The Brooklyn Nets made their Barclays Center debut in a Monday night matchup with the Washington Wizards, and while the preseason affair didn't boast the star power of Jay-Z's recent run of blockbuster building-christening concerts, it did feature two things near and dear to hoops fans' hearts: a good ol' fashioned NBA fight (which is to say, an aimless bit of shoving in which no legitimate punches were thrown) and a night-ending, hierarchy-affirming zing.
In the game's closing minute, with the Nets up eight and the outcome well in hand, Wizards amnesty victim-turned-Nets big man Andray Blatche (who had 16 points, eight rebounds, two steals and two assists off the Brooklyn bench) bodied up Wizards point guard A.J. Price on a drive, stripping him of the ball and tossing an outlet to Brooklyn's star triggerman, Deron Williams. Price, thinking he'd been fouled on the play, raced back on defense and promptly took the body on D-Will, leading to some shoving, scuffling and the exchange of unkind words. Both players received technical fouls and Williams hit two free throws on the personal foul call, as the Nets finished off a 98-88 win.
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After the game, Price — who was born in the Amityville section of Long Island, N.Y., about an hour's drive away from Barclays Center — chalked the shoving match up to the heightened passions of a competitive contest.
"In the heat of the moment, guys say things all the time and one thing led to another, but all in all, it's part of the game," the UConn product said, according to Tim Bontemps of the New York Post.
Williams, unsurprisingly, had a slightly different — and absolutely withering — take. From Mike Mazzeo at ESPN New York:
Williams said Price [...] kept saying, 'I'm home. I'm home.'"
"I hate when people just start talking for no reason," Williams said. "That's pretty much what he did.
"Maybe he had some boys in the crowd he wanted to impress while he can with the little minutes he's going to get this year.
To be fair, Price might see more than "little minutes" for the Wizards, thanks to John Wall's unfortunate left knee injury. Still, in the interest of clarity: Price has played 2,315 combined regular- and postseason minutes during his three-year NBA career; Williams played 1,999 last year alone, and he missed 11 games. Price is on a one-year, veteran-minimum contract competing for minutes with Shelvin Mack and Jannero Pargo; Williams is on a five-year, $98.8 million maximum contract, the master of all he surveys in Barclays Center and likely competing for a playoff berth. With all due respect (no, seriously, we mean it) to the Nets' part-owner, that's the kind of comment that makes your soul burn slow.
So, now that we know how Williams responded after the game, what did he say to Price at the time? From Yahoo! Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski:
Williams rolled his eyes, laughed and blurted back to Price something that Nets general manager Billy King had worked so relentlessly to hear Williams declare within Barclays: "This is my home now."
And Nets fans wouldn't have it any other way. Say goodnight, A.J.
Video via nbainfos.