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11:35 PM ET, 6/17/06

Averyspeak: Johnson sounds off

Posted by Kelly Dwyer
Avery Johnson
Avery Johnson had much to say about Jerry Stackhouse's Game 6 suspension.
We usually tend to agree with just about everything Dallas coach Avery Johnson says, we like the way he looks when he says it, and can't often get enough of the way he says. He's the Little General, y'know, and we're usually up for some marchin'.

But the press conference he gave on Saturday afternoon was a bit much. The media availability session was short on insight, and devolved into the sort of moan-fests we'd usually expect from message board or radio chat show gasbags (or, ahem, certain owners). Most of Avery's anger stemmed from the curious suspension of Dallas guard Jerry Stackhouse, after the league office ruled his Game 4 foul on Shaquille O'Neal -- initially called as a Flagrant 1 foul -- was instead a Flagrant 2, and worthy of a suspension.

As you'll read, most of the media's questions (presented in italics) seem rather innocuous. It's Avery (bolded) that veers off track. Our comments are littered about.

Have you been able to transmit your anger to your players, to get them a little more angry, upset?

We've taken a look at where we are right now, and we just hadn't played our style of basketball. We haven't been as proactive as we'd like to be offensively and defensively, and we don't like losing the rebounding game. We'll have another opportunity to go back and do it tomorrow.

He's right on. The Dallas guards haven't put the defensive onus on the Heat guards in Miami. Jason Terry scored 18 points in Game 4, but he and Devin Harris were largely non-entities.

Avery you've had a little while to mull over the Stackhouse decision, can you just talk about your reaction to that now? And what do you guys have to do to make up for his loss [Sunday] night?

Well I guess I've expressed my disappointment, and I don't know -- what am I supposed to do? Everybody's so amazed that I disagree with the decision. I mean, what the -- what am I supposed to do? Go out and have a parade? Have a party? Because the league comes down with a certain ruling, what are we supposed to do as coaches? Say "Amen?"

Totally agree, and we appreciate your candor. It's heaps better than the usual, "I'd say more, but don't want the league to take my money, hardy-har-har" tripe we usually hear. But notice how he doesn't even touch the second question? Stack's not going to be around for Game 5, so how's about dealing with reality for a second? A-men.

I disagreed with the ruling, all right? I don't think it's consistent with what we've seen in the playoffs.

Agree and disagree. During the first round of these here playoffs, James Posey lowered his shoulder and rammed into a driving Kirk Hinrich when he could have wrapped him up using both long arms and quick feet. The league dumped Posey for a game. Your situation was less severe, and while I don't agree with the league's ruling, I can't blame them for the decision they made. At the end of the day, a Miami Heat player went up for a breakaway dunk, and Avery's player went out of his way to stop him from shooting -- rather than block his shot. As a result, the Heat player went sprawling to the floor. Stack probably didn't mean to dump Shaquille O'Neal on his butt, I'm sure he wanted nothing to do with what actually happened (if only for the idea of waking a slumbering giant), but it's what happened, and the league has to react.

Put it this way -- Dwyane Wade wanted nothing to do with creating the potential for a four-point play in Game 2 when he decided to leave his feet and try to block Stackhouse's 3-pointer. But he did want to stop the shot, he did make contact, and the officials had to react. Stackhouse did not want to send O'Neal to the ground in Game 4, but he did try to stop him from shooting, he did make contact, and the officials (both on the court and in Manhattan) have to react. It's part of the game, and the frustration, of guarding Shaq. You're taught to wrap your body around him in order to stop him from dunking on three guys, and that's exactly what Stackhouse tried here. But the angle was wrong, Shaq was sent to the floor, and the league had to keep with the pattern they set in late April.

But I want there to be a level of consistency. There's too much inconsistency. That's my opinion, based on what I see.

If you're hinting at the fact that Shaq nearly eviscerated Stackhouse's nose in Game 1, then I can empathize. But it's my opinion, based on what I saw, that Shaq went to stop a shot, and inadvertently pulverized Stackhouse. Nothing finable or suspension-worthy. Stack never wanted to block Shaq's shot, he knew he wouldn't have a chance at an on-ball stuff, so he decided to try and wrap him up. He failed, miserably, and the result is an iffy suspension.

Just be consistent. Whether it's Player A that commits a flagrant foul, or Player B on this team that commits a flagrant foul. Or Player A, that displaces, or re-routes ... just make it consistent, and let the players decide the game.

Right with you here, I just disagree about the lack of consistency in this instance. In Game 1, Shaq went to block Stack's shot. In Game 4, Stack went to stop Shaq's shot. Two different goals.

Coach, without Jerry [Sunday] night, who do you anticipate taking those shots?

We've been adjusting all year.


We've been injured all year.

Tell it.

We've had more players suspended in the playoffs than any team, right?

Right. The Los Angeles Clippers also lead each of the playoff teams in field goal percentage differential (+.056). I own four pair of knockoff Roy Orbison-type sunglasses. Want any more pointless statistics?

Anybody else had three guys suspended? Who else? Who else? So we've made a concerted effort from the day I took this job, never to complain.

You're right. Nobody's complaining here. We're just ... talking.

I think people have taken this as a weakness.

Odd. The league wants to over-suspend the Mavs because they never complain? You do know that Mark Cuban owns your team, right Avery?

I've always said, in my mind, there are certain things I don't want to do as a coach. So we've been injured, we've had guys suspended, but we don't complain. All we want to do is play ball. But it's hard when there's a level of inconsistency.

I agree. Inconsistency is killing this team. Stackhouse shot 6 of 11 in Game 2, and has shot 7 of 27 since.

Avery, [Friday] on that interview that you gave the radio station, you went a step further with the inconsistency, saying players get more special treatment than others --

That's a historical thing in our league. That's nothing new. We've all been around the NBA. That's the way it is.

No complaints.

But you mentioned Shaq, in particular, and also your owner mentioned that in comments [Friday] that they're not calling things on him.

Really and truly, I never want to cry about it.

Nobody wants to cry about it. We just want to comp- ... er, talk about it.

I never like using players' names. You guys look back and look at the first play of the game. Their player, Player A, just came over and pounded Dirk. I wasn't crying about a flagrant foul, all right? It was an elbow to Dirk's head. We weren't complaining about a flagrant foul, because we don't complain about flagrant fouls, all right? But we make the same attempt, and then my player gets suspended. And now, because I'm supposed to be a religious man, I'm supposed to come in here today and have a prayer meeting.

The way Avery tells it, if Mark Cuban were a licensed reverend, the Mavs would be fielding an NBDL team right now.

At 2-2, in this format, would you rather have Game 5 at home or the last two at home?

We don't complain about the format.

He didn't ask if you wanted to complain about it. He wanted to know which format you'd prefer.

We've worked all year to get to this point; we've all talked about getting to the Finals and winning a championship. Just give ourselves a chance. We knew if we made it to this point we would be playing against the Heat, we'd be playing against Detroit, or we'd be playing against Team A -- we knew we'd be playing against a great team. All we want to do is be able to come out and play the game, and just ... no preferential treatment. Just play. Just be consistent. Let the players determine who is going to win. That's it. That's all I ever want.

Somehow, Jerry Stackhouse must be involved. The dude's omnipresent.

Avery, [Alonzo Mourning] was just lamenting out there the fact that you can't play the same sort of physical style you used to be able to play -

Oh, you can't?

(Hilarious. Seriously. Anyone with NBA TV needs to seek this part of the conference out and look at Avery's face).

You want me to give you an example? I'll give you a couple. For instance, Kevin McHale closelining Kurt Rambis -- now he'd be out for the rest of the playoffs. Bill Laimbeer and Robert Parish both probably wouldn't have played any of that [1988] series. Hakeem and Ewing in Houston in the NBA Finals would have fouled out of every one of those games. I mean, the league has purposely tried to change the tenor of the way they play, and that's what 'Zo was saying too. How frustrating is it as a coach -- I mean the hard foul has always been in the game of basketball, making the player think twice about going to the basket -- how difficult is it as a coach to adjust your mindset to rules that are clearly different?

That's something we've talked about all year. Us trying to change the way we play "Maverick Basketball." All right? We teach hard fouls. We do not teach flagrant fouls. We teach hard, clean, fouls -- and that's a big part of our game? Have I seen it from our team as much as I want to? No. But when we attempt to make a play on an individual and then get suspended, that's pretty disappointing. But now we can't disagree with the hierarchy -- that's a no-no, so what are we supposed to do?

Well, you could take what comes to you when your backup shooting guard tries to stop Player A from taking a shot, and accidentally knocks Player A down.

The reason why this series is 2-2, first of all, is because Miami has come out and won two games on their home court, and they deserved to win.

Spot on.

We've never taken that M.O. of blaming other situations when we lose.

Unless we lose on Sunday.

We've given credit to our opponents all year. So let's give the Heat some credit for tying up the series 2-2. But, again, why we're here today, is because one of my players has been suspended. And I'm frustrated with the ruling and disappointed with the ruling.

But Avery, they're not changing the ruling. You won't see Stack until Game 6, so why not end the public carps and try and prepare your players for that reality? It's extremely unlikely that the league will be forced into making another tough decision like they had to do with the Stackhouse ruling, so it's not as if your points are going to win Stu Jackson over for the "next time." That "next time" probably won't happen until 2006-07, so why not try and put it past you (in public, at least) and work on what could go right in Game 5?

Again, we like the candor, but we don't necessarily think it's the best thing for his team. Avery has every right to be ticked off at this, admittedly strange, overruling from the league office. But this is hardly the way to react, especially in a public forum. Next time, go with the parade.


Honestly, I think Avery's stance on Stackhouse's suspension is wrong. First of all Shaq did not intentionally foul Stackhouse when he tore his nose. I think Avery is just frustrated how his players are playing. If that is so, the Mavs may be loosing the series because of frustration.
Posted: 2:57 AM   by Anonymous
Obviously, Avery has lost his cool during the interview. Instead of preparing his team for game 5, I think he is too frustrated with the J.S. situation. I am not expecting Dallas to be great in game 5 when their head coach is not exactly mentally clear. Posey commited a similar foul, but less dramatic, and got the same result, a suspension. I do not agree that the league is inconsistent. Thus, this is the NBA finals, you think the league just suspended a guy without a legitimate reason so that it can cause more drama? No! Come on Avery, keep you cool and get Dirt to figure out how to he fight off the Heat defense. You are obviously losing your cool and it's not doing any good to your team. The last thing we need is for your owner to come out and blow this thing out of proportion and cause more distractions. Take the lost like a man, stop crying.
Posted: 3:31 AM   by Anonymous
total bs.

NBA is rigged for it to always stretch to a 6-7 games series so they can get their money.
Posted: 4:28 AM   by Anonymous
I find your article typical of the usual north-eastern tripe, we are use to getting. NBA is a bunch of Bal Hooey...a act to be played out...and your article points to the obvious mish-mosh-mouth tribute to anything out of the central south. You should find your self right at home. Why don't you do something worthy with your time....like taking a second look at the Oprah like show we know as NBA. It is obvious to most of the un-zealot NBA fan that the whole thing is rigged. Of course, we watch it..its entertaining, but we know it for what it is..........scripted circus act.
Posted: 10:49 AM   by Anonymous
I saw game 4 and I saw clearly that JS did not try to stop the ball and did not try to hold Shaq, but instead hit him with barages of hands in the neck, face and chest. Shaq is too big to fall like that, that is why you can see the reaction of Shaq when he fell down, he went up immediately and if not for D-Wade he could have confronted Stack and earned his 2nd T, so I don't understand why even some media guys see it as a reasonable flagrant foul that is weird or should have not earned a suspension. On my view it is a bad and hard foul that came from the frustration of Stack on what is happening on the game. I'm a Dallas fan because of Dirk and Terry, however basketball is a physical sport, but you don't try to hurt anybody like that. Shaw is lucky for not having a bad fall, with his size, he could have easily landed badly, like head first or injured his arms or legs or even his body. Every individual has the right to voice his own opinion, like avery (obviously he's mad bec. of the consecutive loses), but in this kind of sport you don't need to speak a lot, you need to show if you have it or not, so please just coach and zip it!
I definitely agree on league suspending Stackhouse. Avery must realise that the preferential treatment will always be there for All Star Players to a certain extent but in general the league is spot on 90% of the time. What do you think of Kobe being suspended for elbowing Mike Miller? He is a star too, but league suspended him. It is more important for Avery to focus on stopping Wade than complaining about Stack's suspension as Wade seems to be on a mission.
Posted: 3:37 PM   by Anonymous
Why should he complain? Because he feels there is something wrong with the league's operations. He should say something, because far too often, no one does.

He is complaining a bit much, yes, but calling him a cry baby is pointless, too, isn't it? Lamenting his lamenting... that makes you much, much smarter than him.
Posted: 4:54 PM   by Anonymous
I think it's a little silly to compare the Stackhouse foul to the DWade one, as you do. There's a really simple reason why - Wade wasn't suspended.

No one is contesting that this was definitely a foul, and probably a flagrant one. But calling it suspension-worthy seems a bit much. Posey's move on Hinrich was premeditated, hockey-style checking. Raja's clothesline of Kobe was above the neck, uneccessary violence. Stack's foul of Shaq, though, is nothing like that, and when fines seem to be the accepted MO for fouls like that, a suspension is way too much.
Posted: 6:15 PM   by Anonymous
Why don't you let him talk about all he wants? It's play-off time.
Posted: 6:27 PM   by Anonymous
um... maybe u shouldnt be a reporter. cause you obviously dont know much. yea Avery was ticked, who wouldn't but as a coach he answered the questions as best as he could. And he did it as respectively as possible too. How would you like to lose one of your great players because the NBA wants to make more money and doesn't know how to make a call.
Next time think before you write.
Posted: 8:21 PM   by Anonymous
You don't need NBA tv, the press conferences are all online.
Posted: 10:44 PM   by Anonymous
Typical BS from Sportswriters brown-nosing to the NBA. Shaq has been protected over his entire career by the league. AAnyway, when is Cuban going to sign Shaq's daughters?
Posted: 11:13 PM   by Anonymous
Avery has a right to complain...the officiating in this series has been so one-sided for the Heat and on such obvious calles (I write this as I watch the travisty that is the third quarter of game 5) that anyone would complain. Dirk and company are dealing with an absolute mugging but if a Maverick so much as breathes on a Heat played, there will be a foul called. I don't really care who wins the series, I like both teams and would love to see Shaq win one without Kobe, but it's gotten pretty pathetic. When the Heat get on foul in the entire third quarter and Josh Howard gets a foul called on him for getting slapped in the face by Wade, something looks fishy. Combine that with the league's decision to suspend Stackhouse for a fairly mild foul as flagrant fouls go, and the whole thing looks rigged. The officiating and Stackhouse suspension make the series look rigged to me
Posted: 1:00 AM   by john
Spoiled by soccer! After watching the World Cup every day and then embedding myself on the couch for the Heat-Mavs game tonight... I can't take any more Pro Hoops. A 210 minute BORING game punctuated every 10 seconds by 15 minute commercials... wheeeee. Or... how about 700 foul shots by Miami for no valid reason? What's that crap? Dwyane Wade gets LOOKED at and the refs whistle a foul. Truly pathetic.. and truly offputting for the unbiased fan. Weak game, weak officiating, weak series... and just when the Suns sucked me back into Pro Hoop...pro hoops is weak. When's college basketball start?
After tonight's game, I'm sure that even you, Kelly Dwyer, would have to admit the Mavericks were royally screwed by the refs.

If the league wanted to do something about diffusing the belief that their games are fixed, Joe DeRose, Joe Crawford, and Bennett Salvatore didn't do them any favors.

Suffice it to say, Dallas deserves to go to the line 24 more times than Miami in Game 6.
Posted: 11:32 AM   by Anonymous
If your complaints about the refereeing being lopsided are based on the fact that the heat outshot the mavericks from the free throw line, you might want to question Avery Johnson's decision to hack a shaq, not only at the end of the 4th quarter but in overtime before the mavs were even in the penalty, effectively giving wade even more reason to attack the basket and draw a foul. And I think it's ironic that we're hearing all these complaints about star treatment from a team with it's own star that gets an inordinate amount of foul shots for someone who rarely posts up or drives (Dirk).
Posted: 6:39 PM   by fomer NBA fan from early 1950's
NBA is entertainment, not basketball. Travelling, inconsistently called, palming the ball, moving screens, star protection by the officials.etc..
Seeing the highlighs on ESPN is about all the NBA I can handle. Much to frustrating to enjoy.
Mark Cuban is right. Something needs to be done to get consistent officating every night, not just from game to game.
Posted: 10:40 PM   by Anonymous
This is ridiculous. Dwayane wade is 6 of 10 from the field, and has made 7 free throws. Review the calls and you can see he didn't deserve to go to the free throw line. The NBA just wants the next michael jordan so they are giving him all the calls. The foul on Daniels he didn't even touch Wade. The ref that called the foul was behind shaq and dampier. No way he sees that. Horrible.