The San Antonio Spurs announced today that the franchise will retire Avery Johnson’s number. Johnson’s No. 6 will join James Silas, George Gervin, Johnny Moore, David Robinson and Sean Elliott in the rafters in the AT&T Center. The retirement ceremony will take place on December 22 when the Spurs host the Clippers.
The 5-11 Johnson enjoyed three different stints with the Spurs. He is one of five Spurs to spend 10-or-more seasons in San Antonio (along with Robinson, Gervin, Elliott and Tim Duncan). Johnson was the Spurs starting point guard for seven straight seasons (from 1994-2001). He appeared in 644 regular season games with the Spurs, averaging 10.1 points, 6.9 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.11 steals in 31.1 minutes.
Johnson is the Spurs all-time leader in assists (with 4,474) and ranks among the franchise’s all-time leaders in games (fifth with 644), points (eighth with 6,486) and steals (fifth with 712).
“Avery Johnson represents all that is right about professional sports,” said Gregg Popovich, who signed Johnson in the summer of 1994 less than two months after being named the Spurs general manager. “He was a great competitor, a true leader and an ideal teammate. Most importantly he is a wonderful man. All of us associated with the Spurs thank him for his service and his contributions to the San Antonio community.”
Johnson played a key role in bringing San Antonio its first NBA Championship. During the 1999 Playoffs he averaged 12.6 points and 7.4 assists in 38.4 minutes. With 47.0 seconds left in Game 5 of the Finals he hit an 18-foot jumper, the final basket for either team, to give the Spurs a 78-77 win over the Knicks and clinch the 1999 NBA Championship.
A leader on and off the court, Johnson earned numerous honors during his time with the Spurs. He won the 1998 NBA Sportsmanship Award and was honored with 1999 Excellence in Sportsmanship Award by the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance. He was recognized by the Texas Legislature in 1997, after raising over $1 million for San Antonio area schools, earned USA Weekend’s Most Caring Athlete Award and won the inaugural Fannie Mae Foundation Home Team Community Service Award, for his efforts to revitalize inner-city neighborhoods in San Antonio.
In 16 NBA seasons Johnson appeared in 1,054 regular season games, averaging 8.4 points, 5.5 assists and 1.7 rebounds in 25.3 minutes. He and Calvin Murphy are the only players under 6-feet to appear in over 1,000 NBA games. Johnson started his career in Seattle in 1988-89, after going unpicked in the 1988 NBA Draft. He retired, as a member of the Mavericks, on October 28, 2004. He played for six teams during his NBA career.