Thursday, May 1, 2008

Avery Johnson Q&A: Former coach opens up

Avery Johnson enters his life as the former coach of the Dallas Mavericks proud of what he’s accomplished, secure that he handled himself with integrity and ready to move on to the next professional challenge. The man dubbed the “Little General” years ago didn’t hint at what that challenge might be, but expect to see him on the sidelines again.

Dressed in a brown pin-striped suit and yellow open-collared shirt, Johnson met with reporters today in the lobby of his uptown condo building. He talked about the peaks and valleys of the three-plus years of his first head-coaching gig after replacing Don Nelson, and the decision made by owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson to take the franchise in another direction.

Opening statement:
First of all, I want to say thank you to all of our players that have played here for me in the last 3 ½ years, four including my assistant stint. All of our players that put on a Maverick uniform, they cooperated, they were coachable and we have a lot of great memories here with our players.

I want to thank Mark for taking a shot and a swing on me four years ago as an assistant, to think enough of me to bring me in immediately, he and Nellie, to make me an assistant head coach without any experience. I’ve enjoyed my time here working with Mark. We had a lot of great moments. And we had a lot of fun.

I want to thank every coach I had a chance to coach with and work with. All of them, the coaching staff from this year, previous coaching staffs, we had a lot of great memories. My assistant, Leslie Tracy, who’s been here with me and [director of basketball communications Sarah Melton], and I could go on and on down the list of a lot of tremendous people I had a chance to work with. That’s what this whole deal is about, relationships.

I also want to thank the fans for their support. We sold out a bunch of games. We had a lot of fun in the AAC. And contrary to some segments, we had a tremendous amount of success here. We can get up every morning and look ourselves in the mirror, every player that played, coach, and also myself. We can look ourselves in the mirror and really be proud of what we took over when we took over this team and the direction we went in. We can feel very proud of what we did, each and every day. Every decision that I had a chance to be a part of, I can really feel good about it.

But now, it’s time to move on. There are no hard feelings, there’s no bitterness. I’m a man of integrity and honesty and like I said, I can look at myself in the mirror with every decision I made and feel really proud of it. So again, I want to thank Mark, every player, every coach, everybody I had chance to work with, Donnie. I know it wasn’t an easy deal for Donnie to come visit with me yesterday, and Keith Grant, but it had to be done.

Why did it have to be done?
I think in terms of what I came from a blueprint of what I knew how an organization should be ran from top to bottom. I knew what type of players should be drafted, free agent signings, how the coach should function. I had a really good blueprint with all my successful years down south. And we were able to come here and really make some headway. We were able to change the culture and attitude.

I had a chance to work under a phenomenal coach in coach Nelson. But as coach Nelson said, he felt he couldn’t take it any further. And a lot of the players we brought were players at that particular time that I recommended and he thought I should have an opportunity to take them forward. He had lost [Steve] Nash and he couldn’t get over that. So again, we had a chance to change the culture and take it. Now it’s time for somebody else to take it to the next level and somebody else to work with management and players, and that’s OK. It’s just time for somebody else.

At what point did you realize this might be a reality?
This is a results-driven business and we got the results that we wanted in terms of when we made it to the Finals. Now once you make it to the Finals, one of two teams are going to win, but this organization had never made it there before, so that was a pretty good result. Not the ending result of making it there, but that was a pretty good result. And by the way, that was a pretty good team.

That team and the team that we had the year before that made it to the semifinals when we lost to Phoenix in the second round, those two teams were really deep, special teams, so we got the result we wanted. The next year when we won 67 games, that team significantly, significantly overachieved. We paid the price for it in the playoffs and this year’s team, it was a miracle we made the playoffs. I just think it was time for somebody else to come in, Mark and Donnie felt the same way and that’s why we’re here today.

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Anonymous said...

This brought tears to my eyes. Yes, A.J. you was a great coach and I still believe in you. The only mistake was letting Harris go and that's all.I have to say I was disappointed in You for not going to practice with the guys but I guess you knew the score. I am SORRY AJ But now they need Hakeem Olajuwon he tool the Rockets 3 times and we won 2 times....

kirksnotes said...

I am the Biggest Avery fan in Dallas! Unfortunately Time is up.
I lost a job once in 40 years and i still agree that sometimes it's just time to go somewhere else. One door closes ...another opens.
Owners don't Release themselves?
I give Avery an A- for his Tenure.

He did everything above average ,except New Player acquisition. Don Nelson and company have proved proficient ,but even Nellie missed the mark a few times.
We could NOT compete with the Wizards,Warriors,Sixers,Hornets,Hawks,and Suns Athletically before the Trade and we were even more challenged after the Trade!
This is not something Avery could over compenste for as a coach.
The players are who they are. Fazekas was slow before we Drafted him and slower during Live NBA regular season games.
Never-the-less he was talented and we cut him.We drafted poorly and signed the leftover Free agents.
I am not sure that Avery had control over these results,but the Coach is always the one that gets the Blame.
If he had won the West anyway,and lost in the Finals again...I feel many would still be calling for his dismissal.
Thank You Avery Johnson!
You are a First Class Coach and Human being,and God takes care of your Kind!