OKLAHOMA CITY -- Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was emphathetic when asked about the Brooklyn Nets surprisingly firing coach Avery Johnson on Thursday.
"Just disappointed.'' Carlisle said. "Avery's a close friend, a trusted friend and a highly respected basketball person, both as a coach and his career as a player.''
Johnson coached the Mavs from 2004 until owner Mark Cuban fired him following the 2007-'08 season and replaced him with Carlisle.
As a player, Johnson buried the series-clinching jumper that helped the San Antonio Spurs beat the New York Knicks in the 1999 NBA Finals. He also has his Spurs' jersey retired, and was named NBA Coach of the Year after he guided the Mavs to the 2006 NBA Finals.
"There aren't many guys around who hit game-winning championship-winning shots and had their number retired, and have been Coach of the Year,'' Carlisle said. "So he's a special guy and he'll enjoy the peaceful time off and then he'll be back when he wants to be back.
"He's a high level coach.''
-- Dwain Price
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