Fred Kerber, in profiling Joe Johnson, asks the Nets swingman whether he would pick anyone in the league over him to take that last shot in a game.
"No. Over me? No," Johnson told Kerber, and why not? As a Net, in the final 10 seconds of games with a spread of three points or less, is 7-of-7 from the floor. Over that same period, Carmelo Anthony hasn't made one.
But as the Post writer notes, Johnson is mostly unassuming. He has has pride, but it's not about the pride, like some other superstars (and lesser stars.) It's about the love of the game. "I don’t crave it," he said about the attention he could have demanded. "I started playing basketball because I loved it, I enjoyed it, not because somebody was noticing. I still play for that love,"
Of course, Johnson made headlines this week but suggesting via tweet and openly that his team (apparently including him) had become selfish. It was uncharacteristic, but not unfamiliar to his Atlanta teammates. Ask Jeff Teague. Kerber did.
"He sticks to himself but when he speaks, you listen," said Teague, who said Johnson "changed my whole career" with guidance when they were together in Atlanta. "He’s one of those guys, when he speaks, he’s probably right."
Kerber lists various other players and coaches who rave about the seven-time All-Star. Here's a sample.
"I loved playing with Joe in Phoenix. We became good friends. A great teammate, doesn’t get in trouble. A solid guy," Amare Stoudemire said.
"Fantastic teammate, the best I ever played with," Brook Lopez said.
"A great scorer, great teammate, just a really good person," said Al Horford. "He’s somebody that wants to win, somebody who cares about his teammates."
"In the last 10 years, he’s been one of the best performers in the NBA," said Mike D’Antoni, who coached Johnson in Phoenix.
Of course, there's "that contract." Johnson is still owed $48 million over the next two years, but Billy King said while the Nets looked at it --they had to-- there was something else.
" Then we decided, ‘Let’s take the money out of it and look at it as a basketball player and judge that.’ " said King.
Or as one Nets fan tweeted during his 34-point explosion earlier this season, "We traded Johan Petro for this guy!"
- Joe Johnson has made a career of being the underrated silent guy - Fred Kerber - New York Post
- Brooklyn star Joe Johnson was nearly a Knick - Fred Kerber - New York Post
New coach Kerr, Warriors look to get stronger together and Joe Johnson Q&A - David Aldridge - TNT