At a Wednesday press conference, Alabama Director of Athletics Bill Battle will formally introduce Avery Johnson as the Crimson Tide’s 20th head men’s basketball coach.
“We are very pleased to welcome Avery Johnson as our next men’s basketball coach,” Battle said. “Avery brings our program an impressive level of experience as a head coach and player at the highest levels of the game. We are confident that he will bring an exciting style of play to Coleman Coliseum and will produce a team that our fans will enthusiastically embrace and support.”
As a player, Johnson won an NBA championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 1999. As a head coach, he was named the 2006 NBA Coach of the Year after his first full season as head coach of the Dallas Mavericks. Johnson brings a 254-186 (.577) career coaching record to the Crimson Tide after spending four seasons with the Mavericks and two-plus seasons with the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.
“I am extremely excited about this new opportunity, to become the men's basketball coach of The University of Alabama Crimson Tide,” Johnson said. “Coaching on the collegiate level has always been a lifelong dream. I am thrilled that I have an opportunity to do it at one of the most prestigious universities in all of America.
“Our goal is to make Alabama the leader of the college basketball world. Our fans can expect a team that is going to be very exciting to watch, on both the offensive and defensive ends. A team that's well-prepared and plays with passion, with high energy. The type of team that our fans can support with a lot of enthusiasm. We're going to recruit at the highest level, both in-state and out of state. Recruiting in the state of Alabama is a high priority. Our vision is to recruit and develop student-athletes that The University of Alabama and the community can be proud of. Our players are going to be players of high character, people that care about winning and their teammates more than themselves.
“I want to thank Athletics Director Bill Battle for making the trip to Dallas to present this wonderful opportunity to me and my family. I am looking forward to meeting our fans; our former players; our President Dr. Bonner; our boosters; and our staff and administrators.
“Get ready for the ride of your life at Coleman Coliseum!”
As coach at Dallas, Johnson led the Mavericks to the postseason in each of his three-plus seasons as head coach. He led the Mavericks to a record of 194-70 (.735) and set an NBA record for reaching the 50-win plateau (62 games) and the 150-win plateau (191 games) the fastest of any head coach in league history. In 2005-06, Johnson led the Mavericks to their first appearance in the NBA Finals en route to earning NBA Coach of the Year honors.
Johnson was appointed head coach of the Mavericks on March 19, 2005, following the resignation of coaching legend Don Nelson, for whom Johnson served as an assistant coach. An immediate success, Johnson finished the season with a 16-2 mark, earning Western Conference Coach of the Month honors for April.
In his first full season as head coach, Johnson led the 2005-06 Mavericks to a 60-22 record and the team's first Western Conference Championship. He was named Western Conference Coach of the Month in November of 2005, becoming the first coach in league history to win the award in his first two full months of coaching. Johnson picked up the award for a third time in January, 2006. As the coach with the best record in the conference, Johnson earned the honor of coaching the 2006 Western Conference All-Star Team.
The following season (2006-07), Johnson guided Dallas to an NBA-best 67 wins. In his final season in Dallas (2007-08), Johnson led his club to its third consecutive season of 50-plus wins, finishing with a record of 51-31. Making the playoffs in four consecutive seasons, Johnson holds a career postseason record of 23-24 (.489). Johnson began the 2004-05 season as an assistant coach with Dallas after retiring as a player on October 28, 2004.
In 16 NBA seasons as a player, Johnson averaged 8.4 points, 5.5 assists, 1.7 rebounds and 25.3 minutes played in 1,054 career games with seven different teams. Known as "The Little General" for his on-court leadership and diminutive stature, Johnson helped guide the San Antonio Spurs to an NBA Championship in 1999. On March, 28 2003, as a member of the Dallas Mavericks, Johnson became the 75th player in league history to play 1,000 career games. At 5-11, he joined Calvin Murphy (Houston Rockets) as the only other player under six feet in height to reach that milestone.
A New Orleans native, Johnson played his final two collegiate seasons at Southern University, leading the NCAA in assists both years, and was named the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Player of the Year and the Most Valuable Player of the SWAC Tournament as both a junior and senior. He still owns several NCAA Division I records, including most assists in a single game (22 – shared with two other players), most games with 20 or more assists (4), the highest single-season assists average (13.3), and the highest career assists average (12.0). As a senior in 1988, he averaged 11.4 points and 13.3 assists per game, making him the first men's Division I player to average double figures in points and assists in the same season.
Johnson earned a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Southern University in 1988. He and his wife, Cassandra, were married in July of 1991 in New Orleans. The Johnsons are the parents of two children, a daughter Christianne (22), a 2015 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and a son Avery Jr. (19), who just finished his freshman season on the men’s basketball team at Texas A&M.