Alabama coach Avery Johnson made a stark comparison between two coaching legends.
During an interview on ESPN’s Mike & Mike, Johnson compared his Alabama colleague, Nick Saban, to his NBA colleague and San Antonio Spurs coach, Gregg Popovich.
“You look at Coach Saban, look at all the guys that are going in the first round this year,” Johnson told the show Monday morning. “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.”
Johnson, who just wrapped up his first season in Tuscaloosa, Ala., believes the attention to detail and emphasis on developing consistency are the qualities that make Saban and Popovich extremely unique, but also similar to each other.
“They’re both about habits, and habits are formed in practice,” Johnson said. “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.”
Johnson also left out a small detail that many may point to as the greatest similarity: Both Saban and Popovich are the best at what they do. Both have won five championships in their respective sports. Popovich has been named the NBA’s coach of the year three times, while Saban has received recognition as college football’s best coach twice.
Both also have experience forging a dynasty. Popovich won three NBA titles in five seasons from 2003-07, while Saban has won five national championships in the past seven seasons at Alabama.