Check out the transcript...
BB: Joining me in the studio... Avery Johnson
AJ: Glad to be here, Bruce. We're so excited. Nets basketball is alive and well in Brooklyn...
BB: It was not an easy road to get here. How did you stay focused and how did you stay positive?
AJ: Well, the main thing is, we had a vision. When Billy King and I started here two years ago, we knew the road was gonna be rough. But the main thing is we knew we were gonna upgrade our talent. We knew we were gonna have a new building, the crem della crem of arenas, the Barclays Center, so we just stayed focused on our vision and we did a great job of executing our strategy in the offseason.
BB: You have your first practice in the Barclays Center today, in the bowl, a little bit of a different court than you're gonna play on, but what was it like?
AJ: The feeling was great, we had a lot of changeover crews in there turning the building over trying to get ready for an event, but the main thing is the guys were in there in their locker room, in the building, the sight lines are great, guys made a lot of shots during practice, Deron Williams loves the building, Joe Johnson had a lot of positive things to say about it, so it's great getting them out there on the practice court in our home, which is the Barclays Center.
BB: And we saw the new uniforms unveiled last week and I think everyone was excited with the black jerseys and the white jerseys and this is part of a whole thing of changing a culture, isn't it?
AJ: Yea, we've pretty much been a re-brand. Reb-rand, relocate, re-everything. And the feedback we've gotten from the uniforms and the new colors... Jay-Z did such a terrific job of assisting our CEO Brett Yormark in that department and it's been great. I know everyone's excited about it, Mikhail Prokhorov, our owner is excited about it, everywhere you go whether you're in Brooklyn or Manhattan or anywhere, you're starting to see more Brooklyn Nets gear.
BB: But you don't win without players, let's forget the building and forget the uniforms for a minute. When Deron Williams made the commitment to come back to this team, what did it mean for the franchise?
AJ: It meant everything to the franchise. Deron is such a tremendous basketball player and a human being and we love not only having Deron as a basketball player but also love having him as a family man and...
BB: He's better, Avery, than his numbers last year...
AJ: Oh yea, the main thing is that it's not about those numbers last year, Deron is about winning and that's one of the reasons he re-signed with us, he felt that being able to play in a backcourt with Joe Johnson, with Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries, and Brook Lopez who we re-signed... we have a really terrific bench with C.J. Watson who we signed and so the reason he re-signed had nothing to do with money and had everything to do with having the chance to win a championship.
BB: There was a lot of talk about Dwight Howard, instead, you end up with Joe Johnson. It's a different piece of the puzzle, but it gives you perhaps the best backcourt in the NBA.
AJ: Yes, the main thing is, it's about putting together a team and that's what me and Billy talked about. If you look at the 1989 Pistons, they were a team. We feel we have that type of players... Guys like Reggie Evans who can do some dirty work... Again, you look at the team. We want to be the best team, we don't need to be the best individuals... But when you look at Deron and Joe in the backcourt... We feel that's a significant advantage for us.
BB: Can Joe get back to that season in Atlanta when he averaged 25 points per game? I mean, he is a six-time All-Star but his numbers the last two years have been down. What are you looking for from Joe Johnson?
AJ: Well, we're just looking for him to be efficient. If it's 18 points a game and shooting 47 percent from the field, as long as the Nets win... and that's what Joe Johnson wants. He's at the stage of his career where he just wants to win a championship... Whether he averages 25 points per game, or 22, and or 18...
BB: Your philosophy is predicated on defense and discipline. Is that something that you have to impart to this group this year?
AJ: Absolutely, because we were last in defense over the last two-years and that's not gonna get it. So we feel with the significant upgrade in talent, with Gerald Wallace playing the three position... Joe Johnson, some other guys coming off the bench like MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans... Andray Blatche... We think we must make a step forward defensively, because offense sells tickets but defense wins championships.
BB: Well, you need that guy in the middle, Brook Lopez, who only played five games last year. If there's gonna be an emphasis on defense, he's gotta be productive.
AJ: Yea, he is and he's made a concerted effort to improve in that area... He's gonna have to block more shots this year, he and Andray are gonna have to anchor our defense in the middle...
BB: You need him on the court if you want to be competitive and if you want to have a shot in this Eastern conference...
AJ: Yes and we've overhauled our strength and conditioning program because we took a hard look at what we were doing physically before games, practice days... We need Brook Lopez to be healthy and for our whole team to be healthy. We were the most injured team last year in the NBA with player games missed and we can't afford that this year.
BB: Be honest with me, Avery... Is it about the Knicks? Is it about being better than the Knicks, or is it about being the best basketball team you can be?
AJ: We want to be the best basketball team. You know, we don't want to win our four games against the Knicks and lose to everyone else. That's not what we signed up for. We talked about winning an NBA championship, not just winning a city championship, or just win our division. We know the Knicks are an awfully good basketball team but we have a lot of other good basketball teams in just our division alone. We think the Atlantic division is the toughest division with the Celtics and the 76ers... You know, in the Eastern conference, we have the defending NBA champions, the Miami Heat. So, again, it's gonna be a tough road, but we're willing to fight and we're ready to play.
BB: 10 seconds, your message to the fans as you finish this interview...?
AJ: The main thing is, it's our time. It's our time, it's our season. We've been down for too long. Our fans, we want to tell them that we need their support. We want the Barclays Center to be the hardest building in the NBA for the road team to come in and get a win. We want a significant home court advantage.