The longevity of Joe Johnson

By Steven Simineri

To put into perspective how long Joe Johnson has been around for, look no further than the fact that he is currently teammates with Boris Diaw, who was involved in a sign-and-trade deal that brought Johnson to Atlanta back in 2005. The 35-year old Johnson signed a two-year, $22 million contract over the summer with the Jazz, who wanted some scoring punch off the bench as well as a veteran leader.

His best days may be far in the past, but Utah coach Quin Snyder knows the low-key Johnson is still useful in the right situation.

Doug Collins told me this a long time ago, he said, know your role, embrace your role and star in your role. And Joe’s a guy that his role with us at 35 is very different from the role that he had while here in Brooklyn and even in Miami last year,” Snyder told reporters after his team’s 101-89 victory in Brooklyn last Monday.

Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets

Joe Johnson in his Brooklyn Nets uniform last year

“And for a guy he’s got such humility, you wouldn’t know he’s a 7-time All-Star, he’s played in big game after big game and what he gives us not only is his presence in the locker room with Rodney Hood, with a sense of humor which I didn’t know he had until we got him, he’s got a terrific sense of humor, but he also gives us a guy that can come in a game when the game’s tight and be calm, and be poised.”

With Gordon Hayward missing the start of the season due to a finger injury, Johnson started the year as the Jazz’s starting small forward. He then moved to a reserve role in early November upon Hayward’s return, snapping Johnson’s streak of 969 straight games as a starter and marking his first action off the bench since the 2003-04 season.

He is averaging only 8.5 points in 22.5 minutes a game this season, his lowest totals since his rookie season back in 2001-02. However, he’s exactly the type of reliable, veteran shooter the Jazz need coming off their bench.

Because I knew they were on the verge of making the playoffs last year, so I’ve been in that situation where you get close and then the next year it’s like you just surpass that,” Johnson said about signing with Utah. “So they wanted veteran help, guys that can come and help these young guys get over the hump and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

One thing the Jazz like most about Johnson on the floor is his versatility. At 6-foot-7, 240 pounds, Johnson can play either wing position or be deployed as a power forward when the team wants to go smaller late in games. 

“I think limiting my minutes would be great. I’m enjoying my role, man,” said Johnson, who has averaged 35.6 minutes per game for his career. “I’ve had a lot of success in this league and obviously playing with this great young team, the skies the limit for us so I’m willing to do whatever it takes to help us get over the top. So I’ve been enjoying it.”

 Johnson, who was bought out from his contract by the Nets on Feb. 25 last season, made his first appearance back in Brooklyn last week, and the Nets honored him with a video tribute during the game with highlights of his three-plus seasons (and multiple game-winners) with the team.
Brooklyn Nets welcome back Joe Johnson via Twitter

Brooklyn Nets welcome back Utah Jazz forward Joe Johnson via Twitter

“I didn’t have that in Atlanta but I appreciate Brooklyn for that,” said Johnson, who also happened to hit a dagger three-point shot that clinched the game for the Jazz. “That was very classy and obviously we got some great memories here within just a short period of time but like I said, I met a lot of great people and friendships that continue to grow.”

Email Steven Simineri at and follow him on Twitter @SSimineri. 


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