Reports Say Avery Johnson Is The Man

When Alabama hired Gene Stallings as head football coach in 1990, there was no parade. Many viewed the hire by Athletics Director Hootie Ingram as a dangerous gamble because Stallings had been an assistant NFL coach for most of his career and was idle after having been fired as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.

But a funny thing happened. Stallings put together an all-star coaching staff, men like Bill Oliver and Mike Dubose on defense, Mal Moore and Woody McCorvey on offense. In their third year, the Crimson Tide had a national championship.

Why mention this?

Alabama’s new head basketball coach by numerous accounts (though not an official release from Alabama as of this writing), Avery Johnson, has been working as a television analyst after having been fired as a head coach in the NBA — twice. He has no college coaching experience, and the name of the game in college athletics is recruiting.

Rest assured, Johnson knows basketball. And his NBA connection, along with his presence on ESPN, will make a splash with prospects. Every prospect expects to follow his college career with a gazillion dollar contract from the NBA Nevertheless, Johnson will need assistants who can not only coach, but also recruit. He may start with Antoine Pittway, who had been the most visible recruiter under Anthony Grant, who was fired last month.

It could be former top assistant to Mark Gottfried, Phillip Pearson, now recruiting hard against Alabama at Georgia.

It could be Terrence “Doc” Martin, a former Tide player who has been an NBA scout and executive in the NBA developmental league.

All are former Alabama players.

Other names have been thrown around, all former Tide players. T.R. Dunn, who many expected to get the Bama head job after Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall turned down a reported $4.2 million offer, is with the Houston Rockets. Leon Douglas is head coach at Miles College in Birmingham. Roy Rogers, Antonio McDyess, and Keith Askins have been successful NBA players and stayed in the league in various capacities.

Nevertheless, the success or failure of the program (and the credit or blame) goes to the head coach. Johnson, a 50-year-old native of New Orleans, was a player at Southern University in Baton Rouge. was the NCAA’s leader in assists his junior and senior seasons at Southern, where he was the two-time SWAC Player of the Year.

He made his NBA debut in 1988-89. Johnson played in the NBA from 1988 through 2004 with six different teams and won a NBA title with the San Antonio Spurs in 1999.

He was a head coach at Dallas and with the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets for a total of seven years with an overall record of 254-186 (57.7 per cent). (He was 194-70 for 73.5 per cent at Dallas.)

In 2005-06 he was NBA Coach of the Year as Dallas went 60-22 and won the Wester Conference championship.

He is the father of Texas A&M player Avery Johnson, Jr., who just finished his freshman year with the Aggies.

Anthony Grant was fired after six seasons as Bama head coach, only one of those seasons resulting in a trip to the NCAA Tournament, where the Tide was one and done. Alabama was 18-14 last year.


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