Utah Jazz: Marvin Williams gets new look at former teammate Joe Johnson
Brooklyn • Through his first seven years in the NBA, Marvin Williams didn't know what it was like to play without Joe Johnson next to his side.
Johnson was traded in 2005 to Atlanta, the same summer the Hawks drafted Williams, who came out of the University of North Carolina after his freshman year.
This season, Williams' first with the Jazz, he has found out.
Last summer the Hawks traded Williams to the Jazz for Devin Harris, and shipped Johnson to Brooklyn, giving former Jazz point guard Deron Williams a dynamic new wing man.
On Tuesday, they connected again.
"Getting a chance to play against him now, it will somewhat be like practice," Johnson said prior to the Jazz's game against the Nets at Barclays Center, the first time the two competed against each other as professionals.
"There have been a few times," Marvin Williams said, "mainly in training camps when we competed in practice, but mostly we've been on the same team over the last seven years."
Reflecting on their time together, Williams said, "That team in Atlanta was really fun."
Although Johnson is third on the Nets with 16.8 points per game, he has fallen into place with his new team more quickly than has Williams.
Williams averages 9.7 points per game (his career low was 8.5 as a rookie 2005-06), and has largely relied on 3-point shots to get his points. More than one-third of his shots (59 of 164) entering Tuesday's game had been 3-pointers, although he shoots just 35 percent on 3s.
Watching and being around Johnson, Williams said, made him a better professional.
"Just to see the hours he puts in before practice or after practice," Williams said, "really kind of showed me what it takes to stick around in this league."
Jamaal Tinsley knew the team bus wasn't going in the right direction.
So the backup Jazz point guard, who wears No. 6, did what any native New Yorker would do: He yelled at the driver.
"He was kind of lost," Tinsley said. "He made two left two turns the wrong way, then two right turns."
The Jazz were on their way to the team hotel from Newark Liberty International Airport, and Tinsley's 9-year-old son, Jamaal Jr., was waiting for him at the hotel.
My son was excited to see me," Tinsley said. "... I knew we weren't going in the right direction, so I was just trying to help him out."
Ten years into his career, Tinsley on Tuesday finally played his first game in his hometown. Then Nets moved across the river into New York this season after being based in New Jersey since 1976.
Tinsley scored his first basket in a sanctioned game in Brooklyn since who knows with 10:33 left in the second quarter when he stripped the ball from the Nets' Andray Blatch and converted a layup on the other end. The basket tied at 26 a game that held special significance for Tinsley.
Tinsley was clearly moved by the experience. Of Wednesday's return to Indiana, where Tinsley played his first seven seasons, he said, "It's just another game."
But Brooklyn, that was special.
Jamaal Jr. rode with the Jazz to Barclays Center, and Tinsley passed along a message to his son.
"You got to take all this in now," he remembered saying. " 'Hopefully you get a chance to do the same thing.' But I'm just trying to show him the ropes and knowing that Brooklyn came far."
Back in the gym
Former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan received another honor last weekend one that hit close to home.
The gymnasium at Hamilton County High School in McLeansboro, Ill., was named for Sloan, a former star with the Chicago Bulls who was head coach of the Utah Jazz for 23 seasons. A McLeansboro native, he was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.
Sloan was honored before a game at the high school on Saturday night, a Southern Illinoisan newspaper reported.
According to the newspaper, Jerry Sloan said, "... I didn't think I deserved to be here. I thought this would be something for somebody else."