Avery Johnson is persistence personified, a little guard no one wanted who may end up leading the San Antonio Spurs to the NBA title.
In his 11th year in the NBA, Johnson is in the middle of one of the best postseasons of his career. The scrappy point guard is shooting the lights out for the Spurs, taking the heat off the more famous and bigger-scoring Twin Towers by averaging 15.1 points a game on astonishing 52.7 percent shooting.
Johnson, known throughout the league for his charitable work, has been left open in many of the games as teams are forced to double team either Tim Duncan or David Robinson. He's made opponent's pay not only by knocking down the shots, but by dishing out 7.5 assists a game, too. During the regular season, Johnson averaged 9.7 points a game in starting all 50 games, shooting 47.3 percent along the way.
In 1988, when he came out of Southern University, Johnson went undrafted. He signed as a free agent with Seattle, where he languished on the bench for two seasons. He spent the next few years between Denver, San Antonio and Houston, San Antonio again and then Golden State.
He returned for his third tour with the Spurs in 1994-95 and has been a vital part of the Spurs' return to prominence, playing in all but 13 of San Antonio's games in the past five seasons.
And now, with the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers and Johnson as hot as they come in the NBA, his long trip from nowhere to the pinnacle may soon be complete.