Avery Loses His Team, the Series, Then His Job

So Mike D'Antoni may still be around, for now, but not so for his brother in first-round failure. Today, the Mavs closed the book on the Avery Johnson era, i.e. they fired his ass. The easy answer? The Mavs' playoff failings. But there's some behind-the-scenes drama that probably contributed, or at least foreshadowed, the split. ↵
↵
↵From the Dallas Morning News: ↵
↵⇥A source confirmed that Monday's practice imbroglio was sparked by Howard's attendance at his own birthday party hours after the team's Game 4 loss to the New Orleans Hornets. Howard passed out fliers in the locker room inviting teammates to celebrate his 28th birthday bash at a Dallas nightclub in the wake of the team going down 3-1. ↵⇥
↵⇥
↵⇥Johnson confronted his team about the party Monday – the source said only a few of the players attended – and canceled practice, prompting the players to practice on their own without the supervision of the coaching staff. ↵
↵That's two nebulous strikes against Howard in the past week, both of which were bad for public perception of Howard and his team. But really, Johnson would rather make a point about uprightness and image than practice? Isn't that blatantly ignoring the mission of the team: To get out of a 3-1 hole? If he's thinking "you messed up, so I'll slack, too," well, that's not leadership. Maybe Avery lost the Mavs a while ago, but this practice episode wasn't a mutiny—it was the captain abandoning his post. Excuse me: a li'l general abandoning ship.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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