It’s always a treat when two of the most dominant forces in sports team up.
On one end, you have Ernie Johnson; the beloved NBA on TNT legend who rules the basketball airwaves every season. On the other, you have the Alabama football team; the best college football program in the country.
Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban invited Johnson to speak to his team after a long day of preseason practice.
The NBA broadcaster went on to give as inspiring a speech as you’ll ever hear.
Ernie Johnson’s Speech to Alabama Football
Johnson has an incredible ability to roll with the punches. He guides the conversation between three of the biggest personalities in sports in Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Kenny Smith. He can take a joke and fire back just as easily.
Underneath it all, the host Ernie Johnson has an enormous heart.
He starts off the speech by describing his job as a “get to” job, not a “got to” job. He explains how Inside the NBA is successful because no one makes it about themselves. Everyone on the team has value.
Johnson elaborates on this point using his son Michael as an example. Ernie and his wife Cheryl adopted Michael, who has muscular dystrophy, from Romania. When Michael was in high school, Phil Bollier, the basketball coach told Ernie he wanted Michael to be his “five-foot impact player with no vertical leap.” Bollier had a conversation with Michael and learned his three favorite words: love you, too. Bollier wanted that attitude on his basketball team, and to teach his guys about maximum effort and having a heart for others.
Johnson wraps up his speech encouraging the Alabama players to step away from their agenda if they can make somebody’s life better. It’s a simple sentiment that can pay huge dividends.
“Be a better human,” says Johnson. “How you gonna do it?”
For the Alabama football team, coming together as a unit on Saturdays can make someone’s life better. And that’s worth playing for.