Well, I had Thursday night off and it wasn’t exactly a good “TV” night so I spent much of it watching the Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies game. Why that game? Well former Cal State San Bernardino player Ivan Johnson is a rookie with the Hawks so I had a vested interest.
It’s always nice when someone you saw through the growing stages makes it up to the professional ranks. There are two other prominent ones for me – Keyon Dooling of the Boston Celtics is one I know from his high school days back in Florida. The other is Texas Rangers catcher Mike Napoli, whom I also covered in the prep ranks as well as in the minor leagues.
Well Johnson is one we all knew had a chance of making it in the NBA IF his demons didn’t get to him first. He’s toiled in the D-League and overseas. This was a chance a lot of guys don’t get, especially at 27.
Ivan seems to be making the most of it. He just missed a double-double with 10 points (the first two coming on a thuindering dunk), nine rebounds and two blocked shots. He logged 28 minutes, the most he has logged in a game this season.
The numbers were a bit skewed. The game was a blow out (96-77), not indicative of how well the Hawks have been playing as of late, so the subs did see a lot of action. But Ivan did play 10 uninterrupted minutes in the first half when it was still competitive.
Then the second half. Ivan did draw a technical foul late in the fourth quarter after a phantom foul call on him . . some things never change. Replays showed Ivan never touched the guy he supposedly fouled. The TV analyst also admitted the technical foul was really weak one. But when you’re a rookie, you really can’t say boo. Referees have the last word and they’re going to send a message,.
He is averaging 5.4 points and 3.5 rebounds.
With Al Horford out for the near future Ivan is going to continue to see steady playing time. He has played as little as 2 minutes but is typically between 15 and 25 minutes. He has been through a lot in his life and it is great to see him fulfilling his dream. It’s a chance he needs to take full advantage of.