Avery Johnson helped bring San Antonio their first NBA title. Now a Head Coach with Alabama, Johnson on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike compared his former coach Gregg Popovich to that of the Crimson Tides Head Football coach Nick Saban.
Being coached by Popovich and learning from one of the games best in his respective field as well as seeing what Saban has done with the Crimson Tide football program, it led Johnson to compare the two iconic coaches.
“They’re both about habits, and habits are formed in practice,” Johnson said on Mike & Mike. “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 want to lose a game of checkers or chess — and they have a high level of expectation every single day with everything that they do.
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What also is key that Johnson goes on to speak about is the two coaches like that they have players that are coachable. That want to become better at the game. Setting ego’s aside and just listening will make a coaches job easier.
“And they love players that are coachable. You look at Coach Popovich and you look at the players that have been in San Antonio for all of those years — (Tony) Parker, (Manu) Ginobili and (Tim) Duncan. Those guys are very coachable, they’re not know-it-all guys. They accept Coach Popovich, whether he’s happy or whether he’s sad, and that has an impact on the rest of the team.
While at Alabama, Johnson first hand gets to see what Saban’s practices are like and quickly sees that it is a carbon copy of what Pop does in San Antonio.
“You look at Coach Saban, look at all the guys that are going in the first round this year,” Johnson said. “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.”
These two coaches are passionate about their respective sport. They may not show it while roaming their sidelines but deep down these two are well-respected in the sports world.
Pop has the respect of all players in the NBA. He has drawn many praise from players around the league that wish they could be along side him every single day for all the information the basketball genius has stored away.
Popovich this season has his team in as good of shape as they have ever been in making a trip to the NBA Finals and raising their sixth banner in the rafters.