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Avery Johnson

Head Coach

Avery Johnson was introduced as Alabama's 20th head men's basketball coach on April 6, 2015. Johnson, who led the San Antonio Spurs to the 1999 NBA title and was named the 2006 NBA Coach of the Year, came to the Capstone after a successful coaching career in the NBA.

Johnson's first year at Alabama turned many heads in the college basketball world as it didn't take long for fans and student-athletes alike to heed his motto "Buckle Up" in reference to the excitement he expects his tenure will offer.

During the 2015-16 season, his inaugural as a collegiate head coach, Johnson gave a glimpse of just that. The Crimson Tide finished with an 18-15 record and earned an at-large selection to the 2016 National Invitation Tournament – Alabama's fifth postseason trip in the last seven years.

However, fans could see both tangible and intangible evidence that the men's basketball program was headed in the right direction.

The fan support was tremendous throughout the year. Helped by reseating the student section to create a better in-game atmosphere, Alabama averaged a school record 13,110 fans per game – a number that ranked 22nd-best in the nation. Furthermore, the Tide also sold out five home games, which was the most sellouts in a single year since the 2006-07 season.

On the court, Alabama knocked off four teams that were ranked in the Associated Press' Top 25 during the 2015-16 campaign which led the SEC. It marked the first time since 2001-02 that an Alabama team recorded four AP Top 25 victories in the regular season.

The first two wins over top-25 teams came were captured in back-to-back games, as the Tide was victorious over then-No. 20 Wichita State, 64-60, on Nov. 27 and then-No. 17 Notre Dame, 74-73, on Nov. 29. It was first time a Tide team captured consecutive wins over top-25 teams since defeating then-No. 8 Tennessee (92-79) and then-No. 12 Florida (82-77) on Feb. 18 and Feb. 26, 2006. The Tide also claimed victories over then-No. 19 South Carolina, 73-50, on Jan. 13 and then-No. 15 and eventual NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 team Texas A&M, 63-62, on Feb. 10.

Moreover, Alabama's win over Wichita State snapped a 21-game losing streak when playing ranked opponents. The last time the Crimson Tide recorded a victory over a top-25 team came on Jan. 18, 2011, when the Tide defeated then-No. 12 Kentucky, 68-66, in Tuscaloosa. It was also the first win over a non-conference ranked team since defeating then-No. 15 Michigan, 68-66, on Nov. 29, 2009.

Johnson owned an NBA career coaching record of 254-186 (.577) after spending four seasons with the Dallas Mavericks (2004-08) and two-plus seasons with the Brooklyn Nets (2010-13).

During his time in 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 the record for reaching the 50-win plateau (62 games) and the 150-win plateau (191 games) the fastest.

In 2005-06, Johnson led the Mavericks to their first ever 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 Don Nelson. 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 ever 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, he guided the team to an NBA best 67 wins in 2006-07. In his final season in Dallas in 2007-08, Johnson led his club to 50-plus wins for the third straight year, 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, he 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 Mavericks, Johnson became the 75th player in league history to play 1,000 career games. At 5-11, he joined Calvin Murphy as the only other player under 6-feet in height to reach that milestone. He is still the Spurs' all-time leader in assists (4,474) and ranks 28th in NBA history in the same category. In recognition for his contributions to the Spurs organization, Johnson's No.6 jersey was retired in December, 2007.

The New Orleans native played his final two collegiate seasons at Southern University, leading the NCAA in assists in each of his two years at Southern, and was named the Southwestern Athletic Conference Player of the Year and the MVP of the conference 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 20 or more assist games (4), the highest single season assist average (13.3) and the highest career assist average (12.0). As a senior in 1988, he averaged 11.4 points per game, making him the first men's Division I player ever to average double figures in points and assists in the same season.

Despite his numerous amateur accolades, Johnson was not selected in the 1988 NBA Draft. He started his professional career playing with the Palm Beach Stingrays of the United States Basketball League before signing as a free agent with the Seattle Supersonics on August 2, 1988.

Johnson changed teams six times during his first six seasons in the NBA. It wasn't until his fourth different stint with San Antonio in 1994-95 that he was able to finally settle down. Johnson stayed with the Spurs through the end of the 2000-01 season before signing as a free-agent with Denver on August 19, 2001.


Number nine in a family of 10 kids raised in the New Orleans' Lafitte Housing project, Johnson, like many in America's inner cities, spent his youth battling the statistics. As a result of his success, Johnson is known for his impactful and motivational speeches, bringing as much passion into his speaking engagements as he does into the game of basketball. Johnson's passion extends to the ministry and mentoring of today's youth – his motivational speeches are in high demand at churches and schools across the nation.

Recently, Johnson has given speeches on college campuses, including The University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business and Texas A&M Corpus Christi. During the 2011 NBA lockout, Johnson spent his time speaking and mentoring teens in schools in San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Brooklyn.

Through his involvement with the nonprofit organization "Just Say Yes", Coach Johnson's mission is to make a positive impact on Middle and High School youth. In October 2005, he was co-host of the Katrina Rescue Ride to benefit the Salvation Army and the Red Cross' relief efforts of the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

In 2008, Johnson wrote his second book, Aspire Higher: Winning On and Off the Court with Determination, Discipline and Decisions (Collins), an essential game plan for anyone looking to reach their goals.

Johnson received a degree in psychology in 1988 from Southern University. He married his wife Cassandra in July of 1991 in New Orleans. They have two children, Christianne and Avery Jr., who will be a redshirt sophomore on the Crimson Tide basketball team in 2016.