Four years after his last NBA game, former Brooklyn Nets star Deron Williams made a huge sports comeback. But contrary to what some expected, it wasn’t an epic NBA return as it was the three-time All-Star’s debut in the world of combat sports.
In December of 2021, Williams made his maiden combat sports appearance when he took on former NFL star Frank Gore in an exhibition boxing match. Some may have been shocked, but according to “D-Will,” he has always been fond of fighting, even during his NBA days.
Deron only wanted to fight one guy in the NBA
Basketball is such a highly-competitive sport, and there were times when Williams would almost get into a fight with his fellow NBA stars. His most notable in-game dust-ups were against Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, and Corey Maggette. However, none of those mentioned above had gotten under Williams’ skin.
According to Williams, the only NBA peer he used to want to scrap with was his former teammate Dahntay Jones.
“The guy I used to get into it with was Dahntay Jones,” Williams told Sports Illustrated last year. “Couldn’t stand him because he always tripped me. Always played hard on D. Was one of those guys that tried to get under your skin and I would’ve said him until I played with him in Cleveland and he became my boy. I love Dahntay, but before that it was probably him.”
Born to fight
Ahead of his exhibition match against Gore, Williams revealed that combat sports have always been his interest aside from basketball. In fact, he already knew that fighting would be his new lease on life after he officially retired from the league.
With that in mind, it was a no-brainer for the 37-year-old to pass up on an opportunity to do what he loves.
“I’ve always been drawn to combat sports,” Williams told Chicago Sun-Times. “Wrestling was my first sport. I’ve always been a big boxing fan, a big MMA fan. I’ve always wanted to do a fight since I retired [from the NBA].”
“Look, I’ve been training for years,” he added. “Part of MMA is, of course, boxing. This opportunity came and I just felt like if it was here and I passed it up, that I’d kick myself for it.”
After winning his first and only boxing match, Williams said he might never fight again. We'll see about that.