He led the Dallas Mavericks to their 30-year apex. He Instilled defense and discipline into a franchise that had forever languished with an offensive philosophy. He orchestrated the best regular-season in team history. He was the NBA's Coach of the Year. And he took them within 2 1/4 games of an NBA championship.
On the other hand, he is responsible for the NBA Finals collapse, the humiliating first-round loss to an No. 8 seed after a 67-15 record, and, in the end, for wearing down players such as Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd with his micro-managed dictatorship.
So when he returns tonight, how should Avery Johnson be treated?
Likely, somewhere between a Mike Modano standing ovation/video tribute and Cliff Lee having the audacity to show up in pin stripes.
Johnson - fired way back in 2008 when this lil' blog was just hatched - and his New Jersey Nets will be in American Airlines Center tonight trying to stop the Mavericks' 10-game winning streak. At 6-16 (2-10 on the road) and with Dallas rolling along with a 17-4 record, that's very doubtful.
Still, it should be a fun night. Cheers or jeers.
Oh, and about that February '08 Devin Harris-for-Jason Kidd deal - which was actually Harris, Trenton Hassell, Maurice Ager, DeSagana Diop, Keith Van Horn and first-round draft picks in '08 and '10 for Kidd, Antoine Wright and Malik Allen - let me be the first to admit I was wrong. Harris is an All-Star caliber point guard, but the Nets turned the deal's draft picks into nada (Ryan Anderson in '08 has since been traded to Orlando where he is a non-impact reserve and Jordan Crawford in '10 was used in a trade to get Texas-ex Damion James, averaging 3.1 points per game).
Kidd, in case you haven't noticed, is still going strong.