Nets point guard Deron Williams is paying back the Brooklyn community that has welcomed his team.
As part of the "Brooklyn's Got Wings" project in partnership with Red Bull and the Nets, every assist Williams dishes out over the next two seasons will trigger a $150 contribution for the refurbishment of eight public basketball courts in Brooklyn.
Williams has 319 assists so far this season, generating $47,850 for the project. His goal is to reach $100,000 this season.
Playbook had a few minutes with Williams to talk about this project and his season.
What does this project mean to you?
"These people in this community support us at every game and cheer us on in person or on television. This means a lot to us. And, more importantly, it means a lot to them. I've checked out these courts. They are in bad shape. There are cracks everywhere. The goals aren't great. It'll definitely mean a lot to them when we're done."
And you want to personally help along with giving money.
"I'm in a great position to help the people. I know I'm in the public eye. I'm not doing it for that. I want people to see that I'm giving a helping hand by not just donating money but by doing the work and giving back to the community."
Did getting baptized just a few years ago in Utah change your outlook on things?
"I loved Utah. I love the fans out there. I wouldn't change those five years for anything. I feel really blessed now. Being baptized means a lot to me. I'm a big believer in Christ. I live through him. The perspective keeps me humble. That's a big part of why I give back."
Last week, you told ESPN that you didn't think you were playing All-Star ball. You're averaging 17 points compared to 21 points last year. Did you expect the negative reaction to that answer?
"I've always given honest answers. They asked me if I thought I should be an All-Star at that point, I said that I didn't. In a month from now or a week from now, who knows. But I know that there are point guards playing better than me. That's my nature to be honest."
How do you think the move this season from New Jersey to Brooklyn has been for you and your team?
"The buzz has been great for us. We have a revitalized team and we're in New York City now with a new arena. We've already passed our win total for last season [25 wins already and only 22 all of last season]. It's a different feeling."
And what's your goal now, personally and professionally?
"I hope to be breaking some bricks on this project. We have to get to $100,000 this season. We need to give back. The goal for the Nets are simple. Everybody wants to win a championship in the end. Our short-term goal is to make the playoffs and get home-court advantage. Then anything can happen."