Al Horford walks into the Hawks clubhouse, rounding the Ping-Pong table and the flat screen television, minutes after wrapping up a segment for The Jim Rome Show. He doesn't look big enough to guard Dwight Howard, or brave enough to share the shower with Ivan Johnson. But he was just named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, averaging a near double-double during the Hawks' five-game winning streak. Sitting in an enormous leather chair and smiling a lot, he speaks for 40 minutes. The only interruption: the delivery of his 401(k) packet. It's big.
I want to start with the most important question: Was your little brother more excited by the candy or the cheerleader? And is he actually your little brother?
[Laughs.] Yeah, he's 7. Wait, sorry, he just turned 8.
There were a few mini-phenomenons of the shortened 2011-12 NBA season that proved perfect for distracting fans from the 16 games that were taken from our poor, basketball-loving hands. One of the most left-field of these was a simple man by the name of Ivan Johnson.
Between his athletic past (troubled), his temper (short), and his playing style (the Hulk meets Mendoza from D2), it was a no-brainer to coin him the most interesting man in the NBA and dedicate a five-part, Hard Knocks–meets–Blade series to him, aptly titled "The Ivan Johnson Chronicles." And as the season came to a close, there were no regrets about any of the thousands of words dedicated to his life.
Ivan Johnson and Nick Young. Two of the most interesting players in our beloved National Basketball Association, less because of their abilities and skills and more because it's fun to imagine what goes on in their heads while they do puzzling things.
I've long been thinking that these two men needed to have a formal meeting. Thank goodness for Tuesday night.
Before post-Linsanity and Linsanity, there was pre-Linsanity, also known as The Ivan Johnson Chronicles. During this roughly three-week period of time earlier this year, this interesting character known as Ivan Johnson took the league by semi-storm with his tendency to play like he was oblivious of being televised and talk to reporters like he oblivious to their pens and recorders. There was also evidence that suggested he couldn't name five other players in the NBA, Atlanta Hawks included. What a legend.
But, as with many an important fad, the excitement rapidly began to die down. After declining minutes, a few pretty miserable games, and increasingly fewer reasons to get interviewed, it seemed as if Ivan's time in the spotlight had come and gone. What a shame.
In Part III of this infinity-part series, I take a look at the single most important piece of Ivan Johnson-related information that has surfaced thus far. Sent to us by a man they call "Ed" is a 2008 public radio interview between host Dick Gordon, former troubled basketball player turned coach Mack Cleveland, and his protégé, Ivan Johnson.
In the firsttwo installments of The Ivan Johnson Chronicles, I have often alluded to how "interesting" Johnson is, because he's not the typical NBA basketball player. He doesn't seem caught up in the slightest with the glitz and glamor and fame of the NBA and more treats it like a job that he must show up for every day in order to survive.
Transcribing a 40-minute interview is not my idea of a fun night, that is, unless 20 of those minutes involve listening to Ivan Johnson talk about his life. I could go on about how it impacted me, but instead I'll simply shut up and let you read (and listen, PLEASE LISTEN) about the Ivan Johnson story, as told by Ivan Johnson.
This week, NBA fans have been privileged to witness a number of exciting finishes, amazing individual performances, and that time that Blake Griffin dunked all over Kris Humphries' face. Also, because of the special nature of the shortened season, it's an extra exciting time to be a fan, since one's favorite team is on television almost every night. While it is great for the spectator, the lack of rest is beginning to have a negative impact on the players. And it's not just hurting their joints.
Last night, some guy named Ivan Johnson came out of nowhere for the Atlanta Hawks to score 13 of his career 15 points against the Miami Heat in a triple-overtime barnburning loss. Some mid-game thoughts on Ivan: