Q&A: Joe Johnson

Posted by C.L. Anthony on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 with No comments
Courtesy of Mike Mazzeo

Q: Many All-Stars in the NBA have egos. Despite all the points you’ve scored [more than 17,000], All-Star teams you've made [seven] and money you've earned [more than $150 million], you don’t seem to. How did you develop your personality? 

A: Just growing up, being an only child, I've been quiet pretty much my whole life. I’m not expressive, but I’ll have my moments. I fell in love with the game of basketball and was very passionate about it. But my thing in this game is I never get too high and I never get too low. I like to stay on an even-keel, and that’s to keep my opponents off-balance. 

I think one of the key things my mom [Diane, a single parent] taught me growing up was, "Never let anybody know what you’re thinking." And that’s how I play. You don’t know if I've got 30-40 points or I've got six points. I’m gonna keep the same demeanor pretty much and I’m gonna just enjoy the game. I mean, I might not always like the results, but if that’s what I had that night, that’s what I had. I've got to move on and get on to the next one. 

Q: OK, let’s go back to last season. You’re having one of the best games of your career in Game 5 against Miami [34 points on 15-for-23 shooting], and you lose the ball on the last possession and you guys get eliminated from the playoffs. How tough was that? 

A: When I first caught the ball, I was kinda in the corner, so I knew I was in a tough spot. I think [LeBron James] crowded me, and I think I tried to put it on the floor a few times, but I bobbled it a little bit. I know Ray Allen was in there helping. All I wanted to was just get a look at the basket. That’s all I wanted. I thought we had a chance to pull that one out, and that was a game that got away from us and it shouldn't come down to that, to be honest with you. 

Q: You came to Brooklyn in 2012 with a lot of expectations. How would you evaluate your tenure as a Net so far? 

A: I think each and every year we've progressed, especially in the postseason. Obviously, with the second year, last year, Brook [Lopez] being hurt a lot, Deron [Williams] being hurt a lot, the lineup kinda fluctuated a bit and it was hard to get any type of chemistry, plus adding KG and Paul [Pierce], I thought guys were a bit too unselfish at times and it kinda hurt us a little bit. 

But I don’t know, man, my tenure here has been decent. It hasn’t obviously been what I would've liked throughout the regular season -- especially the first year and the first postseason being hurt -- but this year should hopefully be different. 

Q: Why is this year going to be different? 

A: I just think the focus is a little different. Obviously, we’re trying to keep Brook healthy and everybody’s mindset is different. We don’t have a lot of attention on us, which I think honestly it’s great. The first year, it was all about the Nets going to Brooklyn, so we had so much attention on us. Then, the second year, we got Paul and KG, so now we’re this championship team and now it’s like, "All right, the Nets are done. It’s over with." We’ll be quiet and just play basketball the right way, have fun and I think we’re gonna have great results. 

Q: Recently at practice, you made a shot and KG yelled, “Good shot, Jesus!” Looks like the nickname [coined for his clutch scoring] has stuck, huh? 

A: I told KG: His tongue is power. When he says something, people listen, and they kinda have a tendency to run with it. 

Q: Do you like being called “Joe Jesus?”  

It is what it is. I don’t look forward to anybody calling me that. It’s just at this moment or point in time it kinda is what it is. It’s just KG and he does it from time-to-time. It’s not an everyday thing. 

Q: Many players shrink up in big moments. You’ve hit four game-winning buzzer-beaters as a Net. Why do you relish those moments? 

A: Man, it goes back to my days in Phoenix, even playing with three All-Stars in Amar'e [Stoudemire], Steve [Nash] and Shawn [Marion]. I was still the guy who would take the big shot and make the big shot, and that’s kinda how it was. And as I went to different teams, that wasn’t necessarily my M.O. coming into those teams. It kinda developed that way, it just kinda happened that way. Even going back to when I first got here [and my first buzzer-beater against Detroit in 2012]. 

We had momentum going into that game. I think I made the shots to get us into overtime and Coach Avery [Johnson] was just like, "All right, we’re just gonna keep going to you," and he just kept coming to me. It came down to the last play of the game, and he came to me. And from that point on, it was just if it comes down to the end of the game, we’re gonna see if he can keep doing that. 

Q: What’s the key to being cool, calm and collected in those moments? 

A: It’s just focus, man. It’s just focus and determination, knowing that this could be the last play of the game. And you wanna do anything and everything that you can to get to that sweet spot or get a great look at the basket, and that’s all I try to do.” 

Q: You’re 33 and entering your 14th season in the NBA. Have you started thinking about how much time you have left? 

A: I’ve been in pretty good health. So I just hope, first and foremost, that continues, and I think everything else will take care of itself. 

Q: You've accomplished a lot in your career. What’s left? 

A: Obviously, a championship. And I think we have the ingredients here to do just that. We have to all be on the same page, man. And we all have to want it. 

Q: How much longer would you like to play? 

A: I haven’t put a limit on it, how long I wanna go. But when I’m done here, after my contract is up, I’ll be 35. We’ll see. I don't really know. Honestly, I don’t even like imagining it. But it’s coming. It’s approaching, and I understand that and I’m fine with it. I’m gonna give them everything I got. 

Q: Have you ever thought about your candidacy for the Hall of Fame? ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton recently noted that only one player who has scored 20,000 or more points [Tom Chambers] has ever been left out of the Hall so far. 

A: We’ll see, man. Hopefully, but I got a lot to go. Me being a Hall of Famer would be great, that would be a huge accomplishment, but obviously I wanna be labeled as a great teammate, a winner, and that’s what I’m trying to approach. 

I know I’ve been a great teammate. I know I’ve done any and everything in my power to help the team -- whichever team -- whatever they’ve asked me to do. I just try to do my job, man. I don’t always come up with the best results, but I give them everything I’ve got. 

Q: Obviously things can change, but would you prefer to end your career in Brooklyn if possible? 

A: As long as things are going in the right direction. At this point in my career, I would hate to take a step back. We’ll see. I don’t know what the future holds to be honest with you. I just want to make this year the best year that we have in front of us, and next year we’ll think about that.