Los Angeles • Carmelo Anthony shadowed Deron Williams.
As Anthony dealt with a barrage of questions Saturday about his future in Denver, Williams sat beside longtime friend Chris Paul. The All-Star point guards wore the same dark red Western Conference practice jersey that covered Anthony's body, and the trio formed a wall of talent, power and influence as they sat on top of press row inside in makeshift basketball court at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
But while Anthony was lost in another world and asked about his New York state of mind, Williams and Paul were able to share a smile. Few media members could even see them, thanks to the storm of cameras and microphones surrounding Anthony. And no one was asking them questions.
"That's why I moved here," said a smiling Williams after practice for Sunday's All-Star game at Staples Center.
He joked that he had no idea how anyone ever found him in the swarm, and then laid out his plan. The media was given 30 minutes to ask questions. By Williams' estimate, it would take 25 just for someone to find him. Then only five would remain for the persistent questions about Jerry Sloan and the Jazz.
Williams received a brief reprieve Saturday. He was initially just asked about his injured right wrist, and how it could limit his participation Sunday in the 60th All-Star game.
Williams plans to play, and the only way that his time will be limited is if his wrist feels unnaturally sore. Plus, sitting out two days will not cure what ails him. He likely needs a month of real rest to play without pain, and that will only come when Utah's season is over.
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, who will lead the Western Conference All-Stars, spoke with Williams about his wrist. Popovich plans to defer to his player, and acknowledged that he does not want to "screw him up for the rest of the season."
"We all want to have a good time here and have fun," said Popovich, who had not determined whether Williams would be placed on a strict time limit. "But the season is pretty important to him and his organization. So, he'll let me know."
To Williams, just being on the court with friends like Paul and all-world talents such as Anthony was a vacation. He was allowed to blend in and momentarily disappear, and temporarily did not have to carry the weight of a franchise.
"It's good, man. It's good to get out here and have fun and get away from the grind of the season and the same routine," Williams said. "It feels good to have a different routine. It gets old doing the same thing every day."
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Jazz's lone All-Star
Who • Point guard Deron Williams
What • 2011 NBA All-Star Game
When • 6 p.m., Sunday
Where • Staples Center in Los Angeles
Facts • Williams is a reserve guard on the Western Conference All-Star team, and will be making his second consecutive appearance.