Avery Johnson and Nick Saban share a campus together in Tuscaloosa as well as the title of head coach. However, Saban might be considered a little more accomplished than Johnson — at least at the collegiate level — and the basketball coach recognizes that. He even went out of his way in an interview with Mike & Mike to say awesome Saban is and to compare him to an NBA legend he’s very familiar with.
SEC Country transcribed the interview:
“You look at Coach Saban, look at all the guys that are going in the first round this year. 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. 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.”
I would venture to say Johnson knows better about those two than most of us and his word should definitely be taken at face value. Popovich has over 1,000 career wins and five titles while Saban also has five titles and over 190 wins in college.