Wednesday, August 9th, 2006 at 11:38 am  |  16 responses

Fast Eddie Johnson, Slow Down

The two-time All-Star is charged with child molestation, and it makes us remember that even our heroes can be flawed.

by Lang Whitaker

I must have been in sixth or seventh grade. Spud Webb was a rookie on the Hawks, and I decided that he was going to be my favorite player that season. I’d seen him play some while he was on NC State, and I knew he was small and explosive, and when you’re small you have to find someone like that to identify with.

My Mom was teaching at a preschool near our house, and one day early in the year she came home and told me that the daughter of Hawks guard “Fast” Eddie Johnson was in her class. As the year went on, Johnson came by occasionally to pick his daughter up, and my Mom asked if I wanted his autograph. I didn’t, but I wanted to meet Spud Webb. Eddie hooked it up, and the next time I went down to the Omni to see a game, I met Eddie near the floor during warmups and he introduced me to Spud. I still have a photo of the moment at my parent’s house.

I’m not bringing this up because I’m feeling nostalgic or anything. I’m bringing it up because last night in Florida, Eddie Johnson was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl. According to the story, Eddie’s been in and out of trouble and, since 1989, has been charged with a dizzying array of offenses: burglary, battery, robbery, marijuana possession, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest, battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting or obstructing an officer without violence.

I’m not old enough to remember Eddie much as a player, but he was a two-time All-Star who played a decade in the League. Of course, this was during the late ’70s, when NBA locker rooms allegedly looked like party scenes from Scarface. There was an amazing story a few years ago in the AJC about the Hawks in the ’80s, and the writer visited Eddie Johnson in a Florida jail, where he was serving time for one of those myriad offenses. In that article, which I’ve been trying in vain to find online for the last 20 minutes, Mike Fratello had some ridiculous tales of coaching Fast Eddie, including the time he showed up for a team meeting with an ice cream cone that was dripping all over the locker room, and how he’d light up cigarettes during training camp.

Of course, EJ is innocent until proven guilty, and hopefully he didn’t do this horrible thing. I don’t know what the final lesson is here, other than the obvious, and other than sometimes not everyone that we look up to is who we think they are.

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  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    Forgot to mention, for whatever it’s worth, that Eddie is the brother of Frank Johnson, former Suns coach.

  • Allen

    Must suck too, to be the “other” Eddie Johnson of the NBA who played for Phoenix in the 80s.

  • Will

    yeah they look quite alike. F. Johnson was a player that makes KJ’s jersey K.Johnson. Classic shit.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Marcel Mutoni

    When I heard about this last night, I thought it was the other EJ, the guy with the always-wet jumpshot.

  • Drew

    It’s scary how common stories are about children being sexually taken advantage of.

    wether this is true or not, there are too many stories of men sexually abusing children.
    what causes such sick things to happen?

    sad to think adults look at children as anything more than just children…

  • illydiva

    You’re right, Drew. If the stories are to be believed, this world is becoming more depraved by the minute. I pray it’s not true for Eddie’s sake, but damn, KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF PEOPLE’S KIDS!!!

  • billy

    I cant believe that anyone would touch a kid in an inappropriate way what so ever, i dont care who they are, ,you dont do that

  • Rory Sparrow

    Yo, fast Eddie, what the *uck man? Boy was he nice back in the day. He had madd jets!

  • http://www.myspace.com/rynnmusic Rynn D.

    Must be listening to too much R. Kelly.

  • Bill

    I did time with Eddie & he & I became friends. I’ve been out of trouble since 2000 & it really hurts me to read about Eddie. I don’t believe the story is true!

  • bob

    If the accusations are true, then fast eddie desrves to serve the rest of his life in jail. Molesting a child is the worst crime of all.

  • Ross Genovese

    I was a ballboy for the Hawks in 1978, 79 and part of 1980. It was definately a different scene back in “em days.” Crazy with Hubie screaming, tearing up the locker room and all his battles with John Drew and Terry Furlow (RIP)… Eddie was smoooth as silk. Bring the ball up, on a tite string, and drive the box only to roll a sweet NL pass to Tree Rollins or Dan Roundfield. Eddie came from hard times, which is I guess, why he was always cool to the grunts. Before the days of fat shoe contracts, Eddie and JD would still supply me with sneakers; I think I even have an old pair of PONY’s
    It bothers me to see Eddie in such trouble. I wonder where Drew is…?

  • Drew #2

    I grew up in Ocala, Florida where the Johnson Brothers were spoken of as mythical creatures on the court. My older brother used to tell me about them while we practiced our jump shots. Ocala has gained heros in other sport since. Dante Culpepper and Rick Tuten have had multiple Pro-Bowl showcases and my best friend’s brother Reid Nichols played 10 years with the Red Sox, but Frank and Eddie Johnson were the masters of the hardwood. It hurts, even at 35 years old, seeing your heros as just humans. I hope the charges are untrue. If they are true, I hope Eddie gets some help.

  • Michael O. Johnson

    I remember watching Fast Eddie Johnson when he was with the Atlanta Hawks in the late 1970s through mid 1980s. The best comparison among today’s players would be San Antonio’s Tony Parker — namely, a scoring point guard who was great at slashing to the basket and scoring in the paint.

    Fast Eddie has been a troubled soul for years — I remember in the 1980-81 season, when he was admitted to Grady Memorial Hospital for psychiatric help after a canceled practice. He’s been running into trouble with the law for a long time; this time, he could be facing a serious prison stay.

  • k smith

    If true, I hope eddie gets help. He’s definitely a part of my life. He made me an NBA fan.One of my boyhood icons of the game.I always see HIM as the only EDDIE JOHNSON. AN UNSUNG HEROE,to say the least. stay strong bro.

  • http://slamonline.com barry b

    I heard stories about him from my father who coached him. he said he could cut so fast that he would blow out shoes.rip the soles from the uppers. I believe that is how he got his nick name. also other ocala greats include tyrone young new orleans saints, scott brantly buccaneers,and scott armstrong cowboys,john brantly gators and john jr current gator. most of these guys went to forest high