GREENWICH VILLAGE — NBA legend Larry Johnson reminded New Yorkers to keep their head in the game on city streets, throwing his support behind a city campaign to urge drivers, pedestrians and cyclists to stay alert and obey the rules of the road.
Johnson, the 6-foot-7 former forward for the New York Knicks, and fellow Knick Baron Davis are part of the Department of Transportation's Heads Up safety campaign that urges New Yorkers to shun the common distractions that make them vulnerable to crashes on the street.
"We're texting, we're on the phone, we're doing everything but looking out for ourselves," Johnson told supporters at a DOT press conference at the West 4th Street Courts in the Village. "We need to pay attention in these New York City streets."
DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said increased public awareness about the dangers of distracted driving, walking and biking will save lives.
"Whether you're driving to the hoop or driving down the block, the cardinal rule of the road is to keep your eyes and ears open and your head up," she said.
Crashes between cars and pedestrians account for more than half of the city's traffic fatalities and serious injuries, she said.
Heads Up ads, which began to be posted in April, will continue to appear on city bus shelters, subway entrance video screens and coffee cup sleeves.
Johnson, a 43-year-old Midtown resident, confessed that he often walks down the street while talking on the phone but said he doesn't text much.
"I'm old-fashioned," he said.
In a playful promotional video for the Heads Up campaign, Johnson's fellow Knick Baron Davis, who was injured in May while dribbling down the court, throws a basketball at an unsuspecting pedestrian who is texting on his cell phone while crossing the street.
"Hey, heads up. Come on, man. Pay attention!" Davis says.
"Thanks, Baron Davis," the dazed man says with a smile.
A biker driving against traffic reverses course after Davis corrects him.
"Thanks, Baron Davis!" he says.