Follow the Nets' return to New York with Newsday's Rod Boone.
Avery embracing pressure to win
For the first two years of his tenure as the Nets head coach, there wasn't much pressure on Avery Johnson.
How could there be?
The Nets had their eyes on their move to Brooklyn and tried to position themselves financially for the Summer of 2012, when the likes of Deron Williams and others were expected to become free agents. But now that they have Williams back in the fold and have retooled their roster, the onus us on everyone to get the job done quickly.
That's perfectly fine with Johnson, who's in the final year of his three-year deal.
"Absolutely," he said Monday at the team's media day at Barclays Center. "I’ve been waiting for his kind of pressure for two years, where it's pressure on us to win, expectations are a lot higher. This is what we want. This is what we signed up for, where we get really, really criticized when we don’t win, and when we win, the players get celebrated.
"That’s what it’s all about. We don’t want to continue to be in the situation where it’s low payroll, low expectations. I’d rather it the other way."
The Nets went 46-102 in Johnson's initial two campaigns.
"It was a lot of sleepless nights," he said. "I don’t want to keep reliving it, but I think part of reliving it is what keeps us humble. Yes, we’re in a new building, new uniforms, new team. But times can change pretty quickly. One moment can change a whole career, one day.
"For me, it was a lot of sleepless nights. But I’m losing sleep now for different reasons, because I’m really excited about this team, and all of the possibilities and all the intangibles, and all the different ways we can play on both ends of the floor. So now last night, [getting only] three hours [of sleep] was in anticipation of being excited about this team and all of our possibilities."
Monday was essentially yet another pinch-me moment for the Nets, but come Tuesday, it's time to finally get down to work.
"It’s just really exciting," Johnson said. "We haven’t had this type of sprit and excitement about our team. We’ve dreamed about this day and having this spirit. But to actually see it, and feel it, and be a part of it, I can’t wait for practice tomorrow. I wish we could start tonight."