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Why Nick Saban Was Sitting Courtside for Alabama Basketball Win over Texas A&M

The legendary head coach highlighted the star-studded crowd inside Coleman Coliseum.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Nick Saban knows a thing or two about winning championships. At Alabama alone, he won six national titles and nine SEC championships. 

Alabama basketball coach Nate Oats is trying to build something similar with four SEC titles over the last three seasons and three straight NCAA Tournament appearances with another on the horizon. 

When Saban announced his retirement last month, Oats reached out to Saban to when he would be back in Tuscaloosa and coordinated a time for him to come speak to the team. Saban did so during the Crimson Tide's bye this week and was in attendance sitting courtside by the Alabama bench showing support for the team's 100-75 victory over Texas A&M on Saturday

After the game, Alabama's Rylan Griffen, Mark Sears and Latrell Wrightsell Jr. shared some of the things Saban told the team. 

"He just said, 'What do you want to do to get where you want to go?'" Griffen said. "When he speaks, you just take everything in. He's a living legend, so you take in everything he says and apply it to your own personal life."

According to Sears and Wrightsell, Saban talked about "being a beast" and what it takes to win. He also shared with the team a Kobe Bryant story from when the NBA legend spoke to the Alabama football team. 

Saban and his wife, Terry, have come to a few Crimson Tide basketball games through the years during his tenure as the Alabama football coach, but this was the first game he's attended since his retirement. 

It wasn't just Saban among the star-studded crowd inside Coleman Coliseum. Current NBA players Noah Clowney from the Brooklyn Nets and Herb Jones from the New Orleans Pelicans decided to come back to Tuscaloosa during the NBA all-star break and were seated behind Saban. 

"A lot of these guys want to come back and be a part of it," Oats said. "Noah Gurley was in the building for the game today too."

Oats also mentioned that Charlotte Hornets rookie Brandon Miller has also been around the program some this season. 

Saban wasn't the only one to speak to the team this week. Oats also asked Clowney, who just played for the Crimson Tide last season before being selected in the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft, to speak to some of the guys before the game. 

Alabama got out-rebounded in the first half and gave up a season high in offensive rebounds. Oats saw Clowney at halftime and joked with him that he needed to give a better speech because the players weren't rebounding the way Clowney did when he was at Alabama. 

"It's great to have guys like that to talk to your guys," Oats said. "They're trying to get to the level that they're at. I love those guys. I love them coming back around. I welcome them with open arms whenever they want to come back."

There were more special guests in the house with the 2004 Elite Eight team honored at halftime including longtime Alabama assistant and 2004 team member Antoine Pettway, plus former head coach Mark Gottfried. 

No. 15 Alabama put on a show for all those in attendance inside Coleman Coliseum with another dominant double-digit victory to improve to 18-7 (10-2 SEC) and stay atop the SEC standings. 

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