Before playing in the first basketball game at Barclays Center, A.J. Price strolled into the media dining room – something rarely done by his millionaire counterparts – and walked out with a plate of chicken parmesan.
“It was banging,” Price said of the food.
Price said since his days in Indiana that he has made it routine to grab a bite of the food that is generally reserved for the scribes and other team personnel and officials. The chicken parmesan didn’t have an adverse affect on his game, as Price scored five points with four rebounds in just less than 11 minutes.
He credited the energy of the new arena, and not his pregame meal, for how he played on Monday.
“The feeling was electric,” Price said. “It’s always good to come home and play in front of family and friends. That was a great feeling.”
But Price will mostly be remembered for what happened in the final minute of the Wizards’ 98-88 loss to the Nets, when he and all-star point guard Deron Williams let emotions get the best of them.
Williams was pushing the ball up the floor when Price decided to slow him down with a chest bump. Price then ripped the ball away from Williams.
Williams walked up to Price before Bradley Beal separated the two. Both received technical fouls but Price repeatedly shouted at Williams that he was home.
“What’s that mean?” Williams asked, as Price continued to bark.
Williams was unaware that Price was a native of Amityville, N.Y. and that he certainly wasn’t going to back down after purchasing 20 tickets for friends and family to watch him play. Price and Williams exchanged words when Williams was at the foul line, when the players went to their benches during a timeout, when they returned back on the floor.
After the game, Price shrugged off the incident.
“Miscommunication,” he said. “In the heat of the moment, guys say things all the time and one thing led to another. But all in all, it’s part of the game.”
Williams, however, decided to throw a verbal smackdown at Price, who is engaged in a point guard battle with Jannero Pargo and Shelvin Mack for the starting job with John Wall sidelined.
“I wasn’t doing anything. He just started talking,” Williams said. “Just, ‘I’m home.’ I don’t know what that means.”
When told that Price is from Long Island, Williams shot back to reporters by saying, “Okay?”
“I’m not a tough guy. I just like to play basketball. I hate when people just start talking for no reason. I guess he had some boys in the crowd he wanted to impress while he can — the little minutes he’s going to get this year.”
Williams, whose face adorns many of the “Hello Brooklyn” signs throughout the city, then said, “It’s my home now. I told him that.”