Joe Johnson Feels ‘No Pressure at All’ Over Monster Contract

by December 27, 2011

Looking to bounce back from a disappointing season, Joe Johnson says he doesn’t worry about how much money he’s making — Johnson is the League’s second highest paid player, only trailing Kobe Bryant in terms of salary — when assessing his own game. From the AJC: “On and on it’s gone since Johnson signed the richest deal in the NBA in the summer of 2010. Over and over Johnson has been asked if he feels pressure to live up to that deal. He always answers the same way. ‘I don’t feel no pressure at all,’ Johnson said on the eve of his seventh season in Atlanta. ‘I try to do the things I have been doing over my career, period. Just come out and play the game the way I know how to play.’ That’s another thing: Johnson’s detractors probably would have carped about the contract even if he played up to his usual standards in 2010-11. When he didn’t, the criticisms grew louder. Johnson had a burst of fine performances from January until the All-Star break. There were hints of brilliance during the playoffs. But, ultimately, Chicago’s brigade of tough defenders swarmed Johnson in the Eastern Conference semifinals. He couldn’t respond. ‘I know it’s the worst season I’ve had since I got here,’ Johnson said. ‘Even though we went further, I thought the playoffs was just decent. Still not where I should have been. I am going to do whatever I can to change that.’ During Atlanta’s training camp, there was a feeling that Johnson is going to do just that. It’s not based on anything Johnson says — even those closest to him often don’t know what’s on his mind — but rather something about the way he’s going about his business. Always a gym rat and workout fiend, the NBA lockout provided Johnson even more time for conditioning. He showed up for training camp 10 pounds lighter than his heaviest weight last season and looks quicker. Johnson also is healthier after an elbow injury derailed him last season. ‘Just from watching him play and the decisions he’s making and how hard he is practicing,’ Hawks coach Larry Drew said, ‘he has come back with a different attitude.'”