Avery Johnson turned in a pretty decent season in his first year as head coach of Alabama men’s basketball, leading the rebuilding Crimson Tide to an 18-15 record and an NIT berth. Johnson was previously a pretty successful NBA head coach, leading the Dallas Mavericks to the NBA Finals in 2006, competing against great head coaches like the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich.
After his first season in Tuscaloosa, Johnson thinks there are some pretty significant similarities between Alabama’s Nick Saban and Popovich, two of the great coaches ever in their respective sports. He discussed those similarities on ESPN’s Mike & Mike this morning.
SEC Country transcribed the interview:
“You look at Coach Saban, look at all the guys that are going in the first round this year,” Johnson told the show Monday morning. “Those guys, every single day — I’ve been on the practice field with those guys — Coach Saban gets after them really hard. But they listen, they take it and all of those guys are very competitive. Coach Saban and Coach Popovich, they have a lot in common.”
“They’re both about habits, and habits are formed in practice,” Johnson said. “When you look at what happens in the game, it’s a direct reflection on the discipline and details that their teams perform with in practice. Both guys are very, very competitive — I don’t think either of them wants to lose a game of checkers or chess — and they have a high level of expectation every single day with everything that they do.”
At first glance, Saban and Popovich don’t seem that similar, but they definitely share a bunch of traits the more you think about it.