I have never in my history as a blogger felt brave enough to blog about basketball. To be honest, I don't know enough about basketball to even pretend to talk about it with any sort of knowledge. I don't know who all the players are on all of the teams in the NBA. I don't know who all of the coaches are and how long they've coached with what teams. I am COMPLETELY out of my element when it comes to basketball jargon. However, history has been made today, friends. This is my first post about basketball. I'm feeling brave.
I LOVE the Dallas Mavericks. I enjoy watching pro basketball for whatever reason-- it's exciting and frankly, a beautiful sport to watch. I don't care about the politics of it all, or the fact that the players are overpaid or whatever. I am just a fan of my hometown team.
So. I would like to publicly say today, that I do not agree with the Mavs' (read: Mark Freaking Cuban) decision to fire Coach Avery Johnson today. I am mourning this great loss for our team. I remember growing up in Texas, knowing even then when I hated basketball, that the Dallas Mavericks were one of the most pathetic teams in the league. They were awful. A joke. But enter Avery Johnson. He was only with the Mavs for four years. And in those four years, I believe he accomplished a lot. Here are a few stats for you:
- In his first full season as head coach, the Mavs posted 60 wins, and their first appearance in the NBA Finals. He became the fastest coach to reach 50 wins (in just 62 games), coached the Western Conference All-Star team and was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year.
- The following season, Johnson led Dallas to a franchise-record 67 wins, the NBA’s best record.
- This past season, Johnson became the fastest coach in NBA history to reach 150 wins with a victory over Memphis on November 17, 2007. He accomplished that feat in just 191 games.
- During his tenure, Johnson posted a record of 194-70 (.735) during the regular season. He led the Mavs to the playoffs four consecutive years.
Sure, the fact that we were NOT the 2006 NBA Champions can't be ignored. But we got to the finals, didn't we? And of course there was the embarrassing first-round exit from the Playoffs last season (#1 seed knocked out by a #8 seed). People say we were outcoached. Maybe we were-- but it did happen to be by Don Nelson, the former Mavs' coach, who Avery Johnson coached under. Don Nelson groomed Avery Johnson and named him as his replacement. So... Don Nelson probably knew a little bit about the Mavs ballclub. And then there was THIS round of playoffs-- another first-round exit. But I don't think this was all Avery's fault. And c'mon, our team just went through some pretty significant roster changes towards the end of this season. No one can expect perfect team chemistry right way. Right?
Anyway, like I said. I don't really know enough about basketball to even be talking about this right now.
But I just wanted to say that I will miss Coach Johnson. He was a stand-up kind of guy. A nice guy. A guy who cared a lot about his players and really did all he could to build a strong bond and friendship with them-- and encouraged them to play the game and live their lives with integrity. And above that, I think he is a good coach.
Farewell, AJ. You will be missed.
* Statistics gathered from NBA.com