Former Mavericks head coach Avery Johnson spoke with the media Thursday morning for 25 minutes. Here's the transcript.
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 Sarah [Melton, director of media relations] 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 a tough…easy deal for Donnie to come visit with me yesterday. And Keith Grant. But it had to be done.
YOU SAY A PARTING OF THE WAYS HAD TO BE DONE. WHY?: “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 [San Antonio]. 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 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.
NELLIE SAID THE TEAM TUNED HIM OUT AT THE END. DID THAT HAPPEN YOU YOU?: "Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. When that happens, then sometimes you need a new voice. It's not that I'm cool with it or I'm not resilient or I'm not disappointed. But this is a part of coaching. Because of that, I've said it all the time. Coaches, we're going to resign or we're going to get fired. Now, whatever words we try to use, that's what happens.
HOW WILL YOU BE A BETTER COACH: "I’m going to be a little more patient, just again I think I learned that the season is a long season and you can’t get 200 things done in the first day of training camp, and I learned that in my tenure here. You learn some different game strategies, again we’d have to take three hours to talk about everything. I feel I am going to be a better coach and because of that, fortunately there will be some great opportunities out there from me."
IS DIRK MORE LIKE JORDAN AND DUNCAN OR PIPPEN AND ROBINSON?: "More than anything he’s great at being Dirk. He is a player that’s very coachable, he’s a player that’s an MVP, perennial all-star. He leads in a different way than some of the guys that you mentioned, but I think at the end of the day he needs some help. Any great player needs help. You look at what’s happening with the Lakers. Kobe, as great as Kobe is, they’ve gotten in the position they’re in now because Bynum got better -- I know he got injured -- now Gasol is there, post-Shaq. So again, I think any great player needs help. In Dirk’s situation, he needs some young guys or maybe another veteran player that’s still in the prime of their career that can really get out there and really give him they type of support he needs.
SHELF LIFE WITH CUBAN: Well, no, first off all, we (Avery and Nellie) are in a little bit different situations because hopefully in my situation with Mark a month from now or a year from now, I don’t want to have a public spat. There’s really no need for that now. If somebody else wants to go engage in something like that I don’t want to be a part of it so it’s a little bit different situation. I just think Mark has the opportunity now to really look at a lot of different candidates. They’re going to have to have a clear understanding on exactly how things work and function when they get here."
WHAT KIND OF COACH DOES THIS TEAM NEED?: Mark’s going to have to make that decision. I think he’s going to have somebody in mind for what style of coach he wants. He’s going to have to make that decision. I think there’s a lot of work to be done. Mark and Donnie realize that and they have to take a long look at this roster and there’s some holes that are going to be have to be filled.