San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is in a weird position when speaking on the Brooklyn Nets firing Avery Johnson.
On one hand, Johnson is Popovich’s former player and pupil, but on the other the guy replacing Johnson is P.J. Carlisemo, a friend of Pop’s and former co-worker.
Yahoo Sports is reporting that Popovich was not pleased with the Nets firing Johnson, and minced no words in describing his disappointment.
“Of course, many of us were surprised to see what happened in Brooklyn. From my perspective, Avery’s not a good coach, he’s a very good coach. He’s a hell of a coach. He’s proven that. There aren’t too many of us out there who have ever won 67 games in a season. He’s taken a team to the Finals. If my memory serves me correct, he was Coach of the Month. It sort of shows what a fickle, volatile business we’re in. We all know that. Avery knows that, too.
“Often times, situations like that have nothing to do with the ability of the coach. It has more to do with circumstances. We’ve seen it before. I can’t help but think sometimes a little patience could go a long way.
“You think about coaches … I believe Dean Smith, they did a little effigy in his honor in the beginning when things weren’t going well. Johnny Wooden had a rough patch in the beginning. Mike Krzyzewski, arguably our best coach we have in basketball today, things didn’t go very well in the beginning. He had an AD who was smart enough to know what he had. He exhibited a lot of patience, so now you see where Coach K is. I think we all understand that. But circumstances, especially in the NBA, have a whole lot more to do with firings than how well or how poorly a coach did. It’s unfortunate. But we all move on, including Avery.”
Pop is in a unique position being the most tenured coach in the league. San Antonio is not Brooklyn. Popovich knows you can’t fire players, so once Deron Williams got upset, it was all but over for Johnson.
Hopefully Avery will rebound and find another gig, worst case, there is always TV.