Former NBA star Johnson credits high school coach in Texas Sports Hall of Fame induction

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by TED MADDEN

WFAA Sports

Posted on February 28, 2014 at 12:15 AM

WACO, Texas -- Former NBA star Larry Johnson made the trip from New York City to Waco for the Texas Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

But his first stop after landing at D/FW Airport was Nocona, a small town about a 100 miles northwest of Dallas, to see his old high school coach.

"My head coach - my high school coach - Coach Mayo," Johnson said. "[He] was at Skyline, now he's here, and any time I'm coming to town, 'What you need Coach?' I'm there."

Johnson played for JD Mayo at Dallas Skyline in the mid-80s and was a McDonald's All-American in 1987. He won a national championship with that famous UNLV Runnin' Rebels team in 1990 and was the first-overall pick by the Charlotte Hornets in the 1991 NBA draft.

Any sports fan over 30 knows exactly who Larry Johnson is. The kids he talked to at Nocona High School had to rely on Google.

Johnson was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame Thursday night. He said that - and everything else he's accomplished in his basketball career - never happens without his high school coach.

"My mother and this man here was all that I needed," Johnson told the assembly, gesturing to Coach Mayo.

"I'm leaving tomorrow," Johnson said. "Coach will 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."

"When someone of Larry's stature comes in, he's done it, he's been there," Mayo said. "And he had distractions, he had adversities."

Johnson works for the Knicks in an ambassador role (even he admitted he isn't sure what his official title of "basketball and business operations representative" means). He played in New York for the last half of his career before retiring in 2001.

He spoke to students for 45 minutes and spent just as long making sure everyone got a picture and an autograph.

A big man with a big-time NBA reputation fit right in with the small town of Nocona, just like his old coach.

And now he's in the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

E-mail tmadden@wfaa.com

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