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It's a Love Affair 'Til Tip Off

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Avery Johnson's cell phone has a speed dial entry marked simply "Pop", as in Greg Popovich and calls his former coach and mentor "an unpaid coaching consultant to the New Jersey Nets."  He and Mikhail Prokhorov have talked about the San Antonio organization as a model for the Nets' long road up and out.

For his part, Popovich has no compunction about praising Johnson, something he doles out with impunity.  "He’s highly intelligent and understands completely the situation he’s in," Popovich said. "He knows it’s going to take time", then notes Johnson has the patience as does the organization.  

All that said, the two understand they'll be matching wits as well as players Monday night. "We’ll say all that mushy stuff before the game," says Johnson. "We’ll try to kick each other’s posterior when the game starts. Is that a good word?"