At the time ownership fired Avery Johnson two years ago, some of the saddest people didnt work on the basketball side, but on the business side of the Nets. Not because he was a marketable quantity but because he had been so onboard about the Brooklyn move, calling Barclays Center the "Taj Mahal" of the NBA.
It didn't work out. After two tough years in New Jersey, Johnson lasted only 28 games in Brooklyn. Although he started 11-4, the team fell into one of its now-familiar swoons and were 14-14 when the call came from Moscow. Johnson touched on his regrets about Brooklyn --- and the transition from New Jersey in an interview with Jalen Rose.
As transcribed by The Brooklyn Game, here's what Johnson said about the Nets in a wide-ranging interview that also touched on his availability for the Nuggets now open job. Specifically look at how he described Deron Williams.
Jalen Rose: And all that success as a coach, then you end up in New Jersey! With the Nets. Youngsters may see them playing in Brooklyn now, but it was a process to get the team from Jersey to Brooklyn. You were the head coach in transition.
Avery Johnson: Yeah, absolutely. You know, when I took over the New Jersey team, Nets, it was a depleted roster. They were coming off one of the worst years, historically, in the NBA. It was just a decimated team. But I accepted the challenge, and thought we could go — and it was a reclamation project — and get it back, get it back healthy again, get it back on its feet, and we took a lot of losses and a lot of bumps and bruises in those first two years, especially in playing in New Jersey, where every game basically at that point, since people knew we were moving to Brooklyn, we were the road team, so we basically played 82 road games.
But by the time we got into Brooklyn, we had put together a better roster. We had acquired Joe Johnson, we had guys like Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez was starting to come into his own, we had traded for, uh, Williams from Utah. So, you know, we started really piecing the team together, and we got off to a great start, we were 11 and 4 in November that first month, and unfortunately I got fired in December, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I’m disappointed I couldn’t see it through to the very end, wish we’d have had a little bit more time, but that’s how it goes in the NBA. No regrets. If I had to do it all over again, I would take that job again. It was great experience in the East Coast, because I had played my whole career and coached up until that point in the Western Conference.
"Uh, Williams from Utah." Okay, Avery, we understand. The Nets section starts at 14:15 in.