Reading the children's classic The Little Engine That Could might be the easiest way to understand what Avery Johnson has gone through to make it in the NBA.
Like the little blue engine from Watty Piper's story, Johnson is an inspiration. Like the little blue engine, Johnson is much smaller than his counterparts. Like the little blue engine, Johnson has had to persevere. And like the little blue engine, Johnson's goal is to climb a mountain.
I think I can - I think I can - I think I can - I think I can.
Click here to read the rest of our story on Avery Johnson from our November 1993 issue...
The thing I’ll remember most about my career is how much I grew up as both an athlete and a man, not to mention how much I learned about what it takes trying to be the best.
I really started to learn that mentality and that attitude at the 1992 Olympics, being on the original Dream Team with guys like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird. I learned by seeing how intense they were about their sport, about their training, and about their commitment to what they do.
Up until that time, I always enjoyed basketball, but I always looked at it as a sport. You come out and you play basketball. You know, it’s fun, but that was it. But those guys took it to another whole level for me. It wasn’t just learning how to be intense and having commitment, it was also seeing the responsibility you have for your teammates...
Former managing editor of Sports Spectrum, Dave Branon, wrote "Friends In Deed" for SS's November 1999 issue about David Robinson and Avery Johnson's unique friendship.
Imagine having a nice leisurely breakfast at your local International House of Pancakes when the glass doors swing open and in walk two of the most famous basketball players in Texas.
It happens once in a while in Stafford, Texas, outside of Houston, when the urge hits David Robinson and Avery Johnson to go out for real food among the real people.
"That's one of our favorite spots," says Robinson, who lives outside of San Antonio. "When I go down to Houston to visit Avery, we go to IHOP and get breakfast. We go when Avery treats me..."
Some people seem to have been born knowing just what they want to be when they grow up.
David Robinson isn't one of them.
The possibility of a career in professional basketball didn't even occur to Robinson until he was nearly through the Naval Academy.
It's hard to believe that Robinson—one of the 50 greatest NBA players ever—never played on a school basketball team until his senior year in high school. Unlike many of his peers in the NBA, he didn't spend countless hours of his childhood playing pick-up games at the playground or signing autographs for imaginary fans. The thoughts of being a basketball superstar never entered his mind...