In northern China, a man, an idol and a fan club: Yonsan Johnson and his love of Joe Johnson


Yonsan Johnson --he changed his name to honor his idol-- works in a factory in remote northern China, a man with a little money and no wife. At 24, though, he has a love: Joe Johnson. Please be seated. You are about to be entertained.

Arkansas Sporting Life profiles Johnson, the fan, and the Chinese language fan club he founded for the Nets small forward. It is a testament to the unrequited love that is fandom in an obscure locale ... and the great reach of the NBA.

Here's how it started, writes Evin Demirel, a writer and a high school classmate of Joe Johnson...

For Yonsan Johnson, formerly Yonsan Uranus, ne Zhu Yan-Qing (like many people in China, Yonson has adopted a more English-sounding name), the inciting event came in the form of the cover of an issue of Dime magazine he found in his military barracks in 2009—he looked down and saw the eyes of a resolute, dignified foreign warrior peering out at him. The eyes belonged to Joe Johnson...

The young soldier saw in the then-Hawk something special, worthy of idolatry. And idolatrous he is, as shown in three years of emails between the fan and the writer. He saves weeks of salary to buy a Joe Johnson jersey, follows the team religiously and hungers for information.

Following Monday's win at Barclays, he writes Demirel of his longing for contact with Johnson, perhaps a game-worn jersey. It can only be described as poetry...

I don’t know why…
I love this guy so badly…
He’s great…
He did a lot of jobs for the Hawks and Nets…
He got some Clutch time.
Hmm… Really wanna his reply… like friend…
years passed…
Don’t know his feeling on that SPECIAL GIFT…
question was he recived it or not…
Really want to have one of his Nets game worn jersey…
memories on it.

There is so much more. He now has 500 members in his Joe Johnson fan club! All we can say is, "whoosh, double whoosh." (Oh yeah, one other thing: Hello, Irina!)

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