Avery Johnson hired to coach Alabama hoops

Avery Johnson will now try his hand at coaching in the college ranks. Photo Courtesy: Tsung-han Yu
Avery Johnson will now try his hand at coaching in the college ranks.
Photo Courtesy: Tsung-han Yu

By Alex Gustafson

Former NBA player and head coach Avery Johnson is the new head coach of the men’s basketball team at the University of Alabama, ending a three week search by the athletic department.

Johnson, who coached the Dallas Mavericks from 2005 to 2008 and the Brooklyn Nets from 2010 to 2012 had been an NBA analyst for ESPN since 2013.

According to al.com, Johnson’s contract is for 6 years and worth $18 million, a $2 million increase from his salary when he coached the Nets.

Michael Casagrande’s article on al.com: “Coach Johnson has an impressive record from the professional ranks, as both a player and a head coach, Alabama athletic director Bill Battle said. His personal history is a statement is a testament to what character, enthusiasm, perseverance, talent and intelligence can do. He has shown fortitude and skill in every opportunity.”

Johnson played 16 seasons in the NBA and helped the San Antonio Spurs win a championship in 1999. As a head coach, he guided Dallas Mavericks to 60 win seasons in 2005-06 and 2006-07, including an NBA Finals appearance in 2006, when Dallas lost to the Miami Heat in six games and a first-round loss to the No. 8 seed Golden State Warriors in 2007.

espn.com article: “I got really excited by it,” Johnson said. “I was thinking this could be a different challenge, a different opportunity so I thought with my skill set I could help in terms of leadership, character development, help players who aspire to be NBA players, help them reach their goals with my wealth of knowledge and resources.”

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported last week that Gophers’ coach Richard Pitino was the primary target to replace Grant after Battle missed out on hiring Gregg Marshall away from Wichita State. Marshall signed a new seven-year contract $21 million, a significant raise from the $1.85 million from his previous seven-year contract with the school.

Johnson replaces Anthony Grant, who was fired after six seasons in which he compiled a 117-85 record, reaching the postseason four times (three NIT berths, including an appearance in the championship game in 2011 and a berth in the  2012 NCAA Tournament).

“I am confident that Avery will provide our student-athletes with the best qualities of leadership: commitment, enthusiasm, pose, confidence, and pride. I am very excited about having Avery join the Crimson Tide family. Not only do I believe that he will be a tremendous example to our student-athletes in all areas on and off the court,” Battle said.

Johnson is expected to be introduced Wednesday.