Thursday, October 02, 2008

An angry ranting Word document that became a blog post about Avery Johnson

So after reading one-too-many comments about how Avery Johnson screwed & screwed UP the Mavs, I just ended up throwing this on paper...or in Word...this wasn't intended to be a post, and it has not been edited. If it lacks coherence or seems to lack any sort of reasoning, well, I was pissed at the time. Sue me.
List of Avery Johnson accomplishments:
  • Made the NBA Finals for the first time in Mavs history
  • Coach of the Year in his first full season
  • NBA Finals in his 2nd full season
  • Made a championship contending team a team that legitimately SHOULD have a championship (and for not having one, it’s his fault)
  • Climbed to the top of the toughest conference in basketball using an entire cast of SOFT players (Dirk is the leader…Damp is the “big man”…who’s scared of that???)
  • 1st, 2nd, or 3rd-highest regular season win percentage in NBA history
  • Coached Dirk into an MVP season for the first time in Mavs history
  • Posted 2 of the 3 best regular season records in Mavs history
  • Made the Mavs a Top-10 defensive team…at one time…while still keeping them in the top-8 offensively
  • Made Devin Harris a strong defensive point guard
  • Made Josh Howard a proven 2nd man
  • Sent Steve Nash away for nothing…oh wait, that wasn’t…him…
  • Sent Michael Finley away and paid him $20 million to be a Spur…CRAP! Not him again…
  • Helped Brandon Bass blossom as a tough-as-nails player
  • Made Erick Dampier show up for half a season…which is a HUUUGE accomplishment!
What Avery could NOT do:
  • Make Dirk tough enough to make clutch free throws or dominate Stephen Jackson
  • Make Josh Howard smart
  • Make Devin Harris experienced (or keep him a Maverick)
  • Make Damp care all the time
  • Make Jet Terry taller
  • Make Jason Kidd 25 again
  • Keep Devin George from sucking
  • Give Jerry Stackhouse workable knees
  • Keep Mark Cuban from tinkering and over-tinkering
  • Remove the traces of Mavs past that had poisoned the current players (fun-before-winning Nellie, lazy Antoine Walker, etc.)
  • Get Diop back in time for the playoffs
  • Make a team of guys who had the opposite of his mentality HAVE his mentality. These were Don Nelson guys—guys who believe that the game should be enjoyed as much as it is won. Avery believes in WINNING first and enjoyment after, not during, the winning. The team and the coach just weren’t in the same book (on the same page doesn’t seem quite enough).
Overall, the Mavs were 35-17 before the trade for Jason Kidd—still at the top of the league. Well….they were 16-14 the rest of the way. You can blame Avery if you want…but trading a $6 million, 24-year-old point guard for a $21 million, 34-year-old one (AND your best defensive big man!) seems like it would have…a bit of an effect on things.
Cuban is still in my good graces for the way he supported Josh Howard in the last few weeks, so I won’t bash him. Plus he said that he did what he had to do—more than half of the Mavericks squad didn’t want to play for Avery anymore.
And THAT…explains a whole lot.
Avery was a tough guy—a lot like Larry Brown, but somehow he got there a lot earlier in life. He was a screamer. He was a schemer. He was a perfectionist. He wanted to win games. He was a Spur. He didn’t care how it looked or felt when they won—he just wanted them to fight to get the wins. That was all he’d ever known.
So when he took control of a team like the Mavs…we should’ve known eventually things would boil over.
It boiled over with Avery’s stern, intense demeanor completely exhausting the fun-loving Mavericks bunch, who obviously were more than content with the amount of success they had experienced thus far.
Is Avery completely free from blame? That’s an obvious NO. But when you look at things, if you had a guy like Dirk as your best player, wouldn’t YOU push him? And if you were having the kind of success Johnson had with that team, wouldn’t you continue to do things YOUR way?
I guess Rick Carlisle will figure things out soon enough…
Oh…and when you count up all of the conference finals and NBA Finals losses between Dirk and the Mavs, Jason Kidd, and Rick Carlisle in this decade, you’ll start to ask yourself… “Does anybody know what it takes to WIN a championship around here???”
Avery did…

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