SVG is player hating on Anthony Johnson.
by Joseph Vecsey
I don’t think I’ve ever disagreed with a coach more that’s gotten his team to the NBA finals. Now maybe I wouldn’t be able to write this if Orlando was up 3-1 (which, admittedly, could have happened), but I feel the players who get you to the Finals should play. And for the Magic, one of those players is Anthony Johnson.
As you probably know, Johnson—who has yet to play a second in the Finals after appearing in every single previous postseason game Orlando had played—was demoted once it was decided to bring Jameer Nelson back into the rotation. “I kinda saw it coming so it wasn’t a surprise. I worked the whole year, helped the team to where we are, and then I’m told I’m not playing anymore. You know I wasn’t happy to hear that. But it wouldn’t have done any good to scream about it, or argue with Stan or cause a disruption. So I did the only thing I could do: be a professional and accept it…and stay ready in case the team needs me,” Johnson said.
Given this, I think I will put him in the category of players who are honest and not phonies as well. Johnson has played on eight teams throughout his NBA career and has always done what he was asked to do with no problems. Then he has had to prove himself year after year with either the same or different team. That’s no easy task to do for 12 years. After being selected No.40 by the Kings in 97 after five years (one red shirted) at the College of Charleston, Johnson has been traded to five teams, and done time in the NBA D-League. This is a guy who has never let himself get defeated, but instead keeps using all thse rejections to make him stronger.
I’m not saying Johnson would come in and have a huge impact on the series, but his heady PG play helped get the Magic there—why not give the guy some minutes? He can’t hurt the team and he deserves to play. Why was he good enough for semi-finals, but not the Finals? He could definitely be worked in the rotation with Rafer and Nelson, who isn’t playing so well that he can’t be sat. Years ago, when I was getting into it with my high school coach and struggling for minutes, Jonson told me to “suck up to the coach and do whatever it takes to get minutes.”
A few nights ago, my father (Peter Vecsey) reminded Johnson of that advice he gave me…which didn’t work by the way. “You told my son to brown nose to get minutes and do whatever it takes,” my father told him.
“Yeah, I remember that, and I still believe that, but it doesn’t seem to be helping me,” Johnson said.
I told Johnson myself that that advice hadn’t worked for me either, but I always appreciated it. Plus, my coach was worse than Stan Van Gundy, so I never stood a chance. Maybe Van Gundy is still angry at Johnson for talking back to him during a game in the Celtics series. Johnson’s pass had been stolen, and Van Gundy took him out of the game. The camera caught the two arguing on the sideline about whose fault it was. According to Johnson, they had it out and it was over. However, he didn’t check back into that Celtic series game, but they won so it’s tough to have a case with the coach after a win. “The passer is 95 percent responsible for balls stolen, I truly believe that, so it was my fault,” Johnson said.
At least Johnson remains positive and still has the attitude that it’s all about the team. The Orlando Magic are very lucky to have a guy like that waiting on standby, even if Stan Van Gundy doesn’t seem to appreciate it.