Avery Johnson admits in an interview with Stefan Bondy that as a coach, he had to talk NBA championship over New York championship. But now as an ESPN analyst, he says everyone in Brooklyn understood the importance of the cross-river rivalry.
Like I said when I was coaching there, I think the bigger goal was to win a championship. But now that I’m in the media, I can say that it’s very important to beat the Knicks and dominate that local audience and win the hearts of the local fans there and the fanbase. And I know from the Nets’ standpoint, it was always a big deal to try to win over some of the Knicks fans and bring them over to Brooklyn.
He says he's not surprised that the Nets took a while to get it together and notes that he predicted it.
I always thought that this team would really kick it in gear around the middle of January and I specifically said January 15. When you have this much talent with this type of a payroll with this type of experienced talent, sometimes it takes a little bit longer. They were an injured team and there were games they had three or four of their top seven or eight of their players who were injured. It’s hard for anybody to survive that.
As for Jason Kidd, he says it's taken time, but he's getting there.
There are so many different things you have to manage on a daily basis, it just requires an adjustment. So he seems to have adjusted a little bit better and people will think you’ve adjusted more when the team wins.
And he also seems to take a shot at Nets ownership.
The more stability the coach has with ownership where he can actually coach and be himself, it helps. But when you’re a coach that’s lame duck, the players are not going to respect you as much.
Before he was fired by the Nets, he had been pressing Mikhail Prokhorov and Dmitry Razumov for an extension, making those same claims, but after two losing seasons, ownership wanted to wait. The result was a firing 28 games into his third season.
- Q&A with former Nets coach and current ESPN analyst Avery Johnson - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News