May 07, 2005
Van Gundy and Johnson

I did not see any coverage of this yesterday, but apparently Dallas Mavericks Coach Avery Johnson had a little meltdown after Game 6:

A lot of things surprise me. You know one of the things that surprises me? Here a team is in an 0-2 hole, everybody has this team written off when they’re down 0-2. They come back and win three in a row and you don’t even hear anything about how the Mavericks won three game sin a row. The talk is about other stuff. Maybe I need to go crazy. Maybe that will help.

This series is about basketball, that is what this series is about. We didn’t play well enough to miss the game. We do not make excuses. The game was called pretty fairly and that is the way it is. So, we lost, we’re getting on the plane, we’re going home and we’re going to get ready for Game 7. No excuses, no complaining, no nothing.

This is a great series. If you win take your medicine, if you lose take whatever it is. All of the team that I have been on, you win you win, you lose you lose. But it is all about basketball. This thing is about the NBA. It is not about one person or one player, this game is global. They’ve got people all over the world watching this game. That is what this game is about. It is about the NBA, it is about a series with the 4 and 5 seeds, two Texas teams playing great basketball. One team is down 0-2, the other team comes back and wins three in a row, another team comes back and wins, now it is tied 3-3. That is what it is about.

Rockets Coach Jeff Van Gundy took that as an attack on him.

"I don't think there's any doubt that he's taking some shots at me," Van Gundy said. "He can feel free to use my name. He doesn't have to speak around it."


On Friday, a much calmer Johnson defended his statements, but added that what happens on the court is what matters in this series.

"So much attention was being drawn to a non-basketball issue than what was going on the court," Johnson said. "A lot of times when people read that stuff, it tends to sway their judgment.

"We just need to get the record straight, that it's 3-3, and these teams are really pouring their hearts out on the court."

Maybe, but Van Gundy said he was even more displeased with Johnson's comments, considering Van Gundy came to Johnson's defense when the Mavs coach was fined $10,000 for charging referee Joey Crawford after Game 1.

"I would have just expected more from a coach who -- after he did what he did -- I tried to support him."

Van Gundy said if Johnson did intend to make the pointed comments toward him, he certainly wouldn't be the first, and "he ain't going to be the last."

Johnson said he would personally see to it that any flap with Van Gundy is smoothed over, maybe as soon as today.

Van Gundy said he wished the two could resolve their differences behind closed doors.

"As another coach, I would think he would be a little bit more apt to understanding, just like when he went off after Game 1, you can make mistakes."

Van Gundy left it at that, kind of.

"He does what he thinks he should do," Van Gundy said. "My only point was, don't speak around it, speak to it.

"If you want to come at me, I understand that, because no one knows they screwed up more than I did."

Johnson says he just wants to put the focus back on the games:

"I was talking about something outside of basketball," he said. "So much attention was being drawn to a non-basketball issue. A lot of times, when people read that stuff, it tends to sway their judgment."

By people, you can assume that Johnson means referees who may see it in the newspaper.

Johnson has been consistent in his post-game comments that officiating has not had anything to do with the outcome of any game in this series. He reiterated that Friday. His only concern is that what should go down as one of the great first-round series of all time might end up tainted by secondary issues.

"We need to get the record straight that it's 3-3 and these teams are really pouring out their hearts on the court," he said. "There's no team playing any harder than the other. Both are trying to survive and now everybody's in a must-win situation.

"This is a great series. You got two great teams. Two of the bigger cities in the United States. Everybody's watching. I think it's great basketball, great for the league. And I think that's what should be the focus – what's going on on the court."

Mavs owner Mark Cuban has maintained radio silence - he's not even mentioned this on his blog.

For his part, Van Gundy has apologized for his original outburst, though it's somewhat mingled in with his response to Johnson.

"I'm truly sorry for using the word 'bias,' for bringing another person into it, for not thinking enough about the ramifications or implications of the word 'bias' and how it can affect the integrity of the league.

"I couldn't be more contrite about being sorry for those things. And yet, when it relates to him, I've done it for a long time. I made a mistake. As another coach, I would think he would be a little bit more apt to be understanding, just like when he went off after Game 1. You can make mistakes. Emotions can go overboard.

"I never meant to impugn the integrity of anybody, certainly not the NBA. No one has benefited more in life from the NBA than me. Professionally, really, I owe so much to the NBA. It's done so much for me. I tried to be a positive reflection. At times, I think I have. At other times, I think I made mistakes I think I've learned from (and) said I was sorry."

We'll see if Commissioner Stern accepts that or if he still pushes for Van Gundy to name his anonymous source.

Finally, though Coach Johnson may want to focus on the games now, he's still thinking a little about other things.

Avery Johnson is looking for love from Mavericks fans after so many in Houston rallied to Jeff Van Gundy's side after he was fined $100,000 by NBA commissioner David Stern.

"You know what I'm disappointed with? Nobody volunteered to pay my $10,000 fine after Game 1," said the Mavs coach, who was hit for arguing with referee Joey Crawford as he left the floor. "Even my son, Avery Jr., I said, 'Man, you didn't offer to give me any money out of your piggy bank to help Daddy pay for his fine.'

"So I don't know what's going on and I've been in Texas longer than Jeff (Van Gundy). Nobody's offered to pay my fine. That's a shame, man. What is it, something about me?"

Send your checks care of the Mavericks to American Airlines Arena. Unfortunately, however charitable this may be, I don't think it's tax deductible. In the meantime, Go Rockets!

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 07, 2005 to Other sports | TrackBack