Avery Johnson

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Avery Johnson (born March 25, 1965 in New Orleans, Louisiana) is a former NBA player and coach, and the current head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide men's basketball team. He was hired to replace Anthony Grant in April 2015.

Johnson grew up in New Orleans and starred for the St Augustin High School Purple Knights. In his senior season he led the team to a 35-0 record and a Class 4A Louisiana state championship. He enrolled at New Mexico Junior College and transferred from there to Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, and then to Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. As a senior point guard for the 1988 Jaguars team, Johnson set an NCAA Division I record by averaging 13.3 assists-per-game. He was not selected in that year's NBA draft and spent the next summer with the Palm Beach Stingrays of the U.S. Basketball League. Afterward he was signed as a free agent by the Seattle Supersonics and made his NBA debut on November 5.

Over the next sixteen seasons, Johnson played for five different teams. His best years were with the San Antonio Spurs, where he was dubbed the "Little General", playing alongside the "Admiral," David Robinson. His scoring output peaked at 13.4 points per game during his first season with the Spurs in 1994. He is best remembered for his role in helping the Spurs win the 1999 NBA Championship against the Knicks. Johnson's shot with 1:06 left in game 5 clinched the series. San Antonio retired his jersey number (6) in 2007 and he was inducted into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

Johnson was released from the team in 2001 and signed with the Denver Nuggets, who traded him the next season to the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas, in turn, sent him to the Golden State Warriors in 2003. He returned to Dallas as a free agent in September 2004, but retired from the game the same October to join Don Nelson's Mavericks coaching staff as an assistant. When Nelson retired on March 19, 2005, Johnson was tapped as his replacement. The Mavs finished the season on a 16-2 run and defeated the Houston Rockets in the first round of the 2005 NBA playoffs before being eliminated by the Phoenix Suns.

Johnson's Dallas team continued its improvement in 2005-06, claiming the second-best record in the Western Conference and a spot in the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Miami Heat in six games. Johnson was named NBA Coach of the Year and was selected to coach the West team in that year's NBA All-Star Game. The following year, the Mavericks entered the playoffs with a league-best 67 wins, but were upset by Don Nelson's 8th-seeded Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs. Dallas was again eliminated in the first round of the 2008 NBA playoffs and Johnson was dismissed on April 30.

Johnson spent the next two seasons working as a studio analyst for ESPN. In June 2010 he was hired to coach the New Jersey Nets. He helped the team improve from 12-70 (0.146) to 24-58 (0.268) in his first season, and in his second, lockout-shortened, season the team continued its mediocre play, improving slightly to 22-44 (0.333). He moved with the team to Brooklyn in 2012 and started the next season 11-4, but the Nets lost ten of the next thirteen and Johnson was relieved of his duties on December 27. He returned to ESPN as an analyst in 2013.

On April 5, 2015 Johnson was interviewed by University of Alabama athletic director Bill Battle and trustee Finis St John IV and accepted their offer to take the helm of the Crimson Tide team.

Johnson and his wife Cassandra have two children, Avery Jr. and Christianne.

Preceded by:
Anthony Grant
Alabama Crimson Tide men's basketball coach
Succeeded by:


  • "Avery Johnson" (April 9, 2015) Wikipedia - accessed April 9, 2015