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Avery Tells Kids in Jay-Z's Old Neighborhood: "You Can Do It!"

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New Jersey Nets
New Jersey Nets

Avery Johnson was at P.S. 380 Friday, just up Marcy Avenue from the Marcy Houses where Jay-Z grew up. The Nets' coach, who regularly gives motivational speeches to everyone from first graders to businessmen and basketball players, delivered an upbeat message to more than 200 third, fourth, and fifth grade students, accompanied by Sly.

After the students presented him with a short performance, Johnson's message was, "You can do it!", citing his own example as well as that of the kid who grew up down the street. It's all part of the Nets' outreach to Brooklyn which in recent weeks has intensified and will become more high-profile Monday when Jay-Z will make "significant announcements" (plural) about both the Barclays Center and the Nets. The arena opens in a year and three days.