Celtics' Rivers, Terry saddened by Nets' Johnson's firing

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Celtics' Rivers, Terry saddened by Nets' Johnson's firing

LOS ANGELES It didn't take long for the news of Avery Johnson being fired by the Brooklyn Nets to make its way out West.

"The Nets ownership would like to express thanks to Avery for his efforts and to wish him every success in the future," Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov said in a release on Thursday.

Two of Johnson's biggest supporters - Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers and C's guard Jason Terry - were both saddened and disappointed by the news.

"When I heard the news it was tough," said Terry who played for Johnson in Dallas. "I know he put his heart and soul into trying to make Brooklyn a winner. And I believe in his system to this day."

Rivers, a former teammate of Johnson's in San Antonio, understands all too well that this is part of the package that comes with being an NBA head coach.

"It's awful," Rivers said of Johnson's firing. "It's the business we're in. But it's a tough one. He's one of my best friends.

Rivers added, "it comes out of nowhere. Avery is a terrific coach, so who knows."

Brooklyn (14-14) has lost five of its last six which includes a Christmas Day defeat to the Celtics.

"Three weeks ago, they were playing as well as anybody," Rivers said. "The NBA is a league of ebbs and flows. That's just the way it is. You go on good streaks, you go on bad ones and you hope you right the ship and go back on a good one. I just thought that was awful quick to make a change."

Just last month, Johnson was the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month and the Nets were seen as a legitimate power in the East.

Today, Johnson's out of a job and the Nets are looking more and more like the downtrodden club from New Jersey that they have gone to great measures to distance themselves from with the move to Brooklyn.

While it's still too soon to predict where Johnson will wind up next, his head coaching record of 254-186 will likely land him another head coaching job eventually.

"He has one of the greatest systems I've ever played in," Terry said. "So I have the utmost respect for him. I know he'll be coaching again in this league soon, if he wants to."

After Johnson was fired by Dallas in 2008 when the Mavs failed to make it out of the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year, he spent 2008-2010 as a studio analyst for ESPNABC.

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

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Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.