NBA Star Visits Nocona! - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

NBA Star Visits Nocona!

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Former NBA superstar Larry Johnson visited Nocona Wednesday, speaking to students at NHS and visiting the Nokona Athletics outlet.

Johnson, a two-time All-Star and the 1991 John Wooden Award winner at UNLV, played for Indians basketball coach J.D. Mayo at Dallas Skyline High School, graduating in 1987.

Johnson talked to students about his life growing up without knowing his father, in a rough area of Dallas, and how Mayo was a father figure and mentor to him.

Johnson said he probably quit the team about five times his freshman year, but kept coming back, having to write a letter of apology to the team each time.

But he said while he may not have appreciated Coach Mayo's strict rules and discipline, not to mention tough practice drills, at the time, he later came to realize that they made him better, and he used some of those drills all the way to the NBA. 

After speaking to the student body, he told us he hopes they will continue to appreciate what they have in Coach Mayo, who has coaching credentials rarely seen in a small, Class 2A program.

"I'm leaving tomorrow," Johnson said. "Coach'll still be here. So, what I really want to let them know is, I got it from right here. The guy I got it from is in your midst all day, every day.

"He can really teach those guys. You know, it's not like someone standing out in front of them just to be out there. But he can really teach them the game of basketball, the fundamentals."

After graduating Skyline as the National Player of the Year, Johnson played two years at Odessa College, being named National Player of the Year both years, before his two years in Vegas, where his teams went 79-6, winning the 1990 National Title and reaching the 1991 Final Four.

He was the #1 overall draft pick in 1991 of the Charlotte Hornets, where he was the 1992 Rookie of the Year and played five seasons before playing five more in New York.

Coach Mayo pointed out that "LJ" went six-straight years being named National Player of the Year at one level or another, from his senior year of high school to his rookie year in the NBA.

Johnson, who currently works for the Knicks, will be in Waco Thursday night to be inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. But he had to make Nocona his first stop, for the coach who he said started it all.