TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Chavis Cook was late for new Alabama men's basketball coach Avery Johnson's arrival at the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport on Tuesday. But his sign stood out.
Cook, a sophomore majoring in advertising at Alabama, made a cardboard sign to show support for Johnson that read "The Little General Wants YOU in Avery's Army."
Johnson was nicknamed "The Little General" during his playing days in the NBA.
"He's a real intense guy," Cook said of what he's seen in Johnson's coaching style. "I think the players will respect him and see what he is trying to do and work towards his plan. They'll see that what he has in store is what's best for the University."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Ledger-Enquirer
Cook's was one of about 40 to 50 people in attendance for the brief sighting of Johnson.
Johnson, donning a crimson tie, touched down in Tuscaloosa a little after 6 p.m. and addressed the crowd. He thanked everyone for coming, touched on how excited he was for the opportunity while also stating that it's been a "lifelong dream" of his to coach at the collegiate level. Johnson made sure to mention how eager he was to get to work, among other standard first-appearance talk.
He will be introduced by the university at noon today.
Johnson did, however, leave a little nugget that is sure to excite the masses of Alabama fans eager to have a winning basketball program once again.
"I want to say to the fans: get ready, put your seatbelt on because what you're about to experience is something you've never experienced before," Johnson said as the crowd cheered.
Johnson, a former NBA coach of the year, will get his first experience as a collegiate coach at Alabama. Johnson won an NBA Championship as a player with the San Antonio Spurs in 1999. He coached the Dallas Mavericks (2005-08) and the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets (2010-12). He has served as an NBA analyst for ESPN since being let go by the Nets.
During his coaching stint with the Mavericks, Johnson was named Coach of the Year for the 2006 season. He also lead the Mavericks to the NBA Finals that year, where they were defeated by the Miami Heat.
Johnson compiled a 254-186 (.577) record during his time as an NBA coach, including 194-70 (.735) as the coach of the Mavericks. While with the Mavericks, Johnson set the record for reaching the 50-win plateau (62 games) and the 150-win plateau (191 games) the fastest.
Whether or not Johnson will be successful at Alabama remains to be seen.
But one thing is certain, though: Johnson already knows some of the words Alabama fans hold dear.
"Roll Tide, Roll," he yelled, before disappearing into the private hangar.