A couple of Dallas Mavericks fans are putting their bodies on the line for their favorite team — literally.
To entice free-agent point guard Deron Williams to sign with the Mavericks, David Fleck and Sammy Gonzalez created the blog Darin’ For Deron blog (darinforderon.com). They began posting videos of them doing various “dares” to prove how much they want Williams to sign with the Mavs.
They posted the first video, of Fleck getting “I (heart) Deron” shaved into the back of his head, on the blog and linked it on their accompanying Twitter account, @darinforderon.
The video didn’t get much of a reaction at first, then one day Fleck checked his phone and saw he had a Twitter notification: “Deron Williams is following you.”
“I was like, ‘You’re kidding,’ ” Fleck said. “I called Sammy and he didn’t even say hello, just ‘Did you just see what I saw?’ “
The pair also got a direct message from Williams about the shaved head video: “That dude is crazy, LOL!”
“My jaw totally dropped,” Gonzalez said. “We couldn’t turn back from there. We had to keep going with it.”
The Darin’ For Deron Twitter feed had 16 followers when Williams reached out to them. It now has more than 700 followers, plus more people following the blog and Facebook account.
The attention drawn to Darin’ For Deron also has prompted copycat sites, such as the No Sleep Til Deron blog for fans of the Brooklyn Nets, who are in the running with Dallas for Williams’ signature.
However, as Fleck said, “They don’t do as much. They’re not as fun.”
“Fun” for the Darin’ For Deron crew includes a video of Gonzalez tossing 21 doughnut holes in the air and catching them with his mouth, in honor of Williams once making 21 of 21 free throws. For an extra degree of difficulty, the video was shot in a dog park, with Gonzalez having to immediately eat any doughnut hole that fell to the ground.
“We really amped it up by going to a dog park and making it a little bit more gross,” Gonzalez said. “I sucked it up, because after seeing what he did to his head, I had to do it.”
Gonzalez was also on the wrong end of another recent dare: Shooting eight free throws and getting shot with a paintball gun after every miss.
“In order to create the buzz and show our true dedication, we really have to ramp it up,” Fleck said. “There’s one we just filmed where my whole body was in pain. Literally, my entire body was in pain and, when the video comes out, you’ll see why.”
The Darin’ For Deron movement has led to lots of dare suggestions for the pair. As a result of one dare, Fleck and Gonzalez wore headbands and fake beards to resemble Williams on a local television appearance.
“Our original thought was to do a dare a day for 30 days, but our bodies just weren’t going to be able to handle that,” Fleck said. “More importantly, our wives weren’t going to be able to handle it.”
Some followers have offered to do dares themselves, but the pair have discouraged most of them.
“There was this one guy on Twitter,” Fleck said. “Deron’s career high is 57 points in a game. He said he would actually have someone hit him with a golf club 57 times. That’s when we wanted to put the disclaimer ‘Don’t try this at home’ on there.”
Fleck, 29, and Gonzalez, 31, both live in Frisco, Texas. They met about five years ago when they were co-workers.
“What we usually do when we’re together is talk sports,” Gonzalez said. “We were discussing the fact that he [Williams] is a free agent and we kept saying Deron, Deron, Deron, and it came to us — Darin’ for Deron.”
“Most of our ideas come to us over beverages,” Fleck said. “If you see the videos, you can tell we’re not the most sane people in the world.
Gonzalez is a graphic designer, which helps with the blog design and the T-shirts the duo sell, with proceeds going to Williams’ foundation.
Fleck works for a marketing company, which no doubt comes in handy when promoting the blog but can complicate things for his day job.
When Fleck sat down in the barber chair for the first video, he was thinking a small “I (heart) Deron” would be etched into the back of his head. But when the clippers came out, the locks started falling.
“It wrapped all the way around his head,” Gonzalez chuckled. “The look on David’s face was priceless.”
Fleck said his boss was willing to let him come to work with the new Deron ‘do, “but I wimped out,” he said.
“We had a couple of clients coming in, and I couldn’t see them sitting around a boardroom with me having that shaved all around my head,” Fleck said. “I reluctantly shaved it off.”
The pair launched the blog on June 11, exactly one month to the day before NBA free agents can sign. They’re confident Williams will sign with his hometown team, but they don’t plan to turn negative if he goes elsewhere.
“Sammy had the idea that if he doesn’t sign with us, which we’re pretty certain he will, we change our logo to Darin’ for Dwight [as in Howard] and focus on another prize,” Fleck said.
And if Williams does sign with the Mavs, it won’t necessarily mean the end of Darin’ For Deron. The two daredevils want to incorporate the blog into Williams’ official website, deronwilliams.com, and continue to raise money for Williams’ foundation.
While the duo have heard from hundreds of followers, assorted talk shows and Williams himself, they haven’t heard a word from anyone with the Mavericks.
They believe the Mavericks are staying mum for strategic reasons, although one of their Twitter followers said he recently crossed paths with the Mavs’ owner.
“He did mention at one point he may have gotten an approving nod from Mark Cuban,” Fleck said. “We can’t say if that’s actually true, but it’s fun to think so.”