Kirby Smart says Nick Saban always chose him over Will Muschamp to play pickup basketball
Georgia Bulldogs football head coach Kirby Smart and Alabama football head coach Nick Saban did a joint interview Friday on SEC Network ahead of meeting in Saturday's 2021 SEC Championship. The pair were interviewed by ESPN's Laura Rutledge.
During the interview, the pair started talking about their pickup basketball games when they worked together at Alabama, LSU and the Miami Dolphins.
Smart coached at Alabama from 2007-15. He was also a Saban assistant coach at LSU in 2004 and with the Miami Dolphins in 2006.
Saban was the LSU head coach from 2000-04 and the Miami Dolphins head coach in 2005 and 2006 before becoming the Alabama football coach in 2007.
Nick Sabana, Kirby Smart teamed up for pickup basketball
Rutledge asked Smart and Saban about being friendly leading up to the SEC Championship.
"I respect Kirby as a competitor," Saban said. "He was always on my team in noontime basketball, so I know what he's like."
The coaches got away from talking about basketball for a bit, but Rutledge brought the conversation back to their pickup basketball games.
"He would pick the teams," Smart said. "He was the ref. He was the general manager. He was the owner. Fortunately, I got to play on his team. (Will) Muschamp got demoted once I got there. He wanted the younger, more talented guy. He didn't want Will and Derek (Dooley) on his team anymore. We had some really physical battles."
Muschamp, currently a Georgia senior analyst, was a Saban assistant coach at LSU from 2001-04 and with the Miami Dolphins in 2005. Dooley, currently with the New York Giants, was a Saban assistant coach from 2000-04 at LSU and from 2005-06 with the Miami Dolphins.
"You had to go play, because he'd look at you and say, 'Hey, what time we playing?'" Smart said of the pickup basketball games. "You got to play."
Rutledge asked if Saban got on coaches for not playing hard in the pickup basketball games.
"You wouldn't be on his team," Smart said of not playing hard in the pickup basketball games.
Rutledge then asked Smart what Saban's greatest skill is as a basketball player.
"He's got unbelievable handles," Smart said. "And he's got an uncanny ability to bank shot. ... He still uses the backboard. I grew up in a generation where the backboard, you didn't count that. You had to go all net. He still uses the backboard."
Rutledge asked Saban if he's still playing pickup basketball.
"Nah, since I got my hip replaced, I had to retire," said Saban, who had hip replacement surgery in 2019.
Here's more Alabama, Georgia football news:
- SEC Nation:How to watch 'SEC Nation,' 'Marty & McGee' on TV, live stream from SEC Championship Game
- Georgia, Alabama football:ESPN's Greg McElroy decides 2021 Georgia football team is best Nick Saban foe at Alabama
- TV, live stream information:How to watch Alabama vs. Georgia football in SEC Championship in Atlanta on TV, live stream
The 2021 SEC Championship is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. CT/4 p.m. ET on Saturday, Dec. 4.