Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams never received a flu shot until his rookie year in the NBA.
If only he knew in high school and college what he knows now.
“Seventh leading cause of death in this country,’’ said Williams. “The flu. I know it’s usually people very young or old or sick that die from it but the seventh leading cause? Too high.’’
Depending on what website you turn to, the flu ranks between being the 7th and 9th leading cause of death in America. It’s no joke.
So when Williams visited the Rite Aid on Fourth Avenue in Sunset ParkThursday as part of the Brooklyn Nets Assisting Community Week, he wasn’t just going to mail it in by signing any T-shirt put in front of him.
“Did you get your flu shot?’’ Williams asked fan after fan.
When the answer was, ‘No,’ Williams pressed.
“You can take your picture with me,’’ he said, even though that wasn’t supposed to be part of the program.
Williams used several passes to get to the shot. He told some of the men they hadn’t gotten the shot because they were afraid of needles. When one man said he had gotten the shot, Williams stared him down.
“You’re lying to me, aren’t you?’’ said Williams.
The man nodded shyly.
“Yeah, I knew it,’’ said Williams. "C’mon. Five minutes. Get the shot.’’
When a woman decided to have the shot, which has almost no downside unless you’re allergic to eggs, Williams tightly held the woman’s hand.
“I didn’t know about this growing up,’’ he said. “I just thought the flu is the flu. You get it. You get over it.
“But why get it if you don’t have to. Get the shot.’’
The Nets have a legitimate chance to win the NBA championship this season and Williams is a big reason for that. When he’s on top of his game Williams is in the discussion of best young point guards in the league.
But because of a sprained and bruised right ankle suffered in a summer workout, Williams did not practice with the team during their recent training camp and he did not play in Tuesday night’s preseason overtime win over the Wizards in Washington.
“There’s no update on Deron’s status right now,’’ Nets Coach Jason Kidd said Thursday on a conference call with reporters. “He’s doing just some light shooting.’’
Williams said the ankle is feeling better and stronger every day. But he’s had ankle problems in the past, receiving numerous cortisone injections and blood platelet treatment.
For a player whose success is so dependent on his breathtaking speed and quickness, the health of his ankle is paramount. When asked if ohe thought it would be an issue this season, his response was pensive.
“I don’t think it should be,’’ said Williams. “I think that’s why we’re doing all the precautions right now. Just to make sure there are no setbacks.’’
With that Williams was back to the task of cajoling fans into getting their flu shot. He teased one fan, saying that getting an autographed shirt was contingent on getting the shot.
The fans froze, before starting to withdraw his shirt. Williams smiled, took the shirt and signed it.
“I’m a professional athlete so I’m always thinking of taking care of my body,’’ said Williams. “But everyone should take of themselves. All it takes is one shot."