Joe Johnson was the face of the Hawks for over half-a-decade. He as a six-time All-Star with Atlanta, and in retrospect, took them to a level of respectability that gets overlooked because of how tough his era turned out to be. Now that he’s in Brooklyn, apparently everyone’s asking him why he decided to bail on his team. ESPN New York reports that Johnson’s answer is simple. He didn’t.
“Everybody thinks I made this trade,” the Nets’ shooting guard said. “I had nothing to do with it.
“Every time I run into somebody when I’m in Atlanta, they ask me, ‘Why did you leave?’
I didn’t have nothing to do with it. I’m just glad that I came to a great organization and a team who wants to win.”
That may be the most amazing thing about how the Nets put together this team. Deron Williams didn’t want a trade to the Nets. But they sold him on Brooklyn. Joe Johnson didn’t want out of Atlanta, but they brought him in and got him to buy in. Gerald Wallace wasn’t shopping for New York real estate, but again, got him to believe in what they’re building. They jerked around Brook Lopez for a year with trade rumors, and he still re-signed with the club.
Say what you want about the luxury tax implications, top level of talent, flexibility and defense of the Nets, but they have managed to convince the players that what they have going on at Barclays is worth being a part, of and they did it before Barclays was even finished getting built.
For Hawks fans, it’s a reminder that Johnson, for all his faults, never demanded top money, he earned it on the free market, and never bailed on the team. It’s for the best that he’s gone, but his time should probably be remembered more fondly than it will be.