Alabama hits a grand slam with hire of Avery Johnson

Published on Sunday, 4/5/15, at 11:44 p.m. Eastern.

One year after Auburn made national headlines and ignited its fan base by hiring Bruce Pearl, Alabama AD Bill Battle answered his school’s arch rival with a brilliant hire.

Avery Johnson is the new men’s basketball coach at the University of Alabama.

Fascinating. Shocking. Explosive.

Outside the box? Hell, Battle left the box and went deep sea fishing.

And he hooked a winner in Johnson, who was the starting point guard for the San Antonio Spurs when they won the NBA title in 1999. He took Dallas to the NBA Finals and was named NBA Coach of the Year in 2006. Johnson led the Mavericks to four consecutive 50-plus win seasons.

What’s the only potential criticism of Johnson? He’s never coached at the collegiate level.

Is that supposed to imply that he won’t be able to recruit? Please.

Alabama might start dominating recruiting in New Orleans, where Johnson is from. He also has AAU ties into Texas and his son plays for Texas A&M.

Johnson would probably be wise to keep Antoine Pettway from off of Anthony Grant’s staff. Pettway led the Crimson Tide to the Elite Eight as its starting point guard in 2004.

Johnson is the perfect age (50) and should be fired up to get to work. He hasn’t coached since 2012 and has been an NBA analyst for ESPN since then.

Johnson has a dynamic and enthusiastic personality, one that will bring instant excitement to the fan base. In fact, it says here that Johnson is a better choice than Gregg Marshall, the Wichita St. coach who spurned Alabama despite a lucrative offer early last week.

This isn’t a home-run hire. It’s a grand slam.

And Bill Battle deserves a standing ovation from the Crimson Tide faithful.

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