‘Iso Joe’ was a force to be reckoned with in his heyday. Over a 16-year NBA career that went from the 2001-02 season until the 2017-18 campaign, Joe Johnson put up career averages of 16 point, 4.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. That career included a seven-year peak where he averaged no less than 18.2 points per game (and topped out at 25.0 points in 2006-07) as a leading member of the Atlanta Hawks. He had six-straight All-Star appearances down that stretch and had his seventh and last appearance in the All-Star game as a member of the Brooklyn Nets in 2014.
Because of the Covid-19 crisis engulfing the NBA, he suddenly found himself with a roster spot on the Boston Celtics and today, 1,304 days since he last played in the league, he found himself scoring an NBA bucket.
It would be Johnson’s only shot of the game in two minutes of action, but it sent the fans into a frenzy.
Johnson started his career as a Celtic before being traded to the Phoenix Suns in his rookie year. It seems fitting then, that his chance to get back in the league involved putting on that green jersey again. He’s long-removed from his heyday, but for those of you that don’t remember, the man was a a deadly scorer who could get buckets from all over the court. He was one of those guys who could just put his head down and come up with a basket when you needed it.
As fun as it was to see him take action today, his return really highlights how bad the Covid problem is right now. It’s absolutely abnormal for teams to have to think about bringing back old guys who have not been active for a couple of years on 10-day contracts. Johnson has been keeping himself busy the last couple of years, and is a two-time BIG3 league MVP. He won his first championship in that league in 2019.
It’s also worth noting that the Celtics aren’t shy about trying to bring in veteran shooters. There’s the famous story of Danny Ainge trying to bring Reggie Miller to Beantown the year that Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen came to town and won them a title.
No one knows how long Johnson will last with the Celtics, but for now, let’s enjoy the ride.