It’s always been clear that the Atlanta Hawks want to keep Joe Johnson around. Why else would they pay him a contract that seems way bigger than any NBA player’s should be? But when you get paid $124 million, every move you make is going to get put under a microscope. If you let the pressure of those eyes get to you, it’s definitely going to affect your game. Johnson says he’s immune to the critics who don’t think he deserves all that money.
“I don’t feel no pressure at all,” Johnson said. “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.”
If Johnson is telling the truth, and it really doesn’t get to him, then he deserves some major props. I think it would be really hard to know that I was making more than LeBron James and couldn’t even help my team get past the second round of the playoffs.
I think what sucks most for Johnson is that no matter what kind of numbers he puts up, his contract will only be validated in the minds of the fans by the success of his team. Right now the Eastern Conference is too stacked for the Hawks to really compete, so fans may never think paying him that much money is worth it.
Despite the lack of success for the Hawks, I’m impressed by Johnson’s work ethic and his drive to be competitive.
“It’s easy to be good, but it’s hard to be great,” Johnson said. “I want to be great. In order for me to do that, I am going to have to keep working, keep practicing to get better.”
I still don’t see the Hawks competing with the Bulls, Celtics, Heat and Knicks but I guess with the right leader, anything is possible. It will be up to Joe Johnson to carry his team to the top.