Johnson Thriving in Toronto

By Scott Stanchak, NBA.com

It’s impossible to know where Amir Johnson would be today had he chosen a college career over the NBA. Every now and then though, even he wonders where he’d been in life. That decision, however, is one no 18-year-old will ever have to make again.

Shortly after Johnson was taken by the Detroit Pistons with the 56th pick of the 2005 Draft, the league tweaked its rules. Eligible players must now be at least 19 years old and one year removed from high school. The new guidelines mean Johnson will forever be a part of NBA trivia as the last high school player selected in the annual event.

Today, Johnson is a 23-year-old, six-year veteran rather than a sophomore. He’s since left Detroit and found a home with the Toronto Raptors, who signed the 6-foot-9 center to a five-year deal last June. Johnson has rewarded the Raptors with a career year.

“I think I’m just getting better with every game, working hard in the off-season and showing a little bit of what I can do,” said Johnson, who is averaging 9.6 points and 6.4 rebounds in 2010-11. “I have to get better every year.”

Much of Johnson’s success this year can be attributed to his increase in playing time. That is partly a product of Chris Bosh’s exit to the Miami Heat in the offseason. Johnson has started 54 of Toronto’s 78 games, playing an average of 25.7 minutes a night, all career bests.

“The more he plays and the longer he plays, and actually gets into the game-type situations, it’s going to be those type of things that will accelerate his development” Raptors coach Jay Triano said. “I think he’s gotten better each year and that’s something we hope will continue to happen.”

When Johnson first came into the league at 18, every so often he would get starstruck being on the same floor as some of his heroes. While many kids his age had posters of Shaquille O’Neal on their bedroom wall, Johnson was a coach’s call from posting up against the future Hall of Famer. Any wide-eyed experiences went out the door though as soon as Johnson stepped on the court.

The Los Angeles native credits Detroit’s veterans for helping teach him the ins and outs of the league. In return, Johnson did whatever his teammates told him to do. That includes some customary rookie hazing.

“There was a lot of christening,” he said. “I had to pay for meals. I didn’t have the money, but had to find a way to do it.”

Johnson says he does more teaching than messing with the yearly freshman, some of whom are his age despite the difference in NBA experience. When asked to envision what playing at the University of Louisville, where he committed, would have been like, Johnson pauses for a second then says, “I think I would have been a helluva college player.”

Although the 21-57 Raptors haven’t had much on-court success this season, there are certainly positive signs for the future. Johnson is one of them, and his points up.

“He’s one of the best interior defenders in the NBA” Triano said. “He brings a great attitude and great energy every time he’s on the floor.”

Article via http://www.nba.com/fastbreak/fastbreak_040711.html


dre said in May, 2011

AMIR you the real deal my dude
i always use your player on 2k11, I be dunking on every body! haha my friends hate it.

Colin said in Apr, 2011

Awesome season you guys fought hard I know you will make playoffs even win next year your team has what it takes
Thanks for the great games

Buddahfan said in Apr, 2011

Last comment for a while but I was thinking that this exercise could help someones footwork


Buddahfan said in Apr, 2011

This is not a dig at Ed Davis who like you said and I wholeheartedly agree “the sky is the limit” however I hope that you ain’t going to let him push you around in practice next season. LOL

But Terry Davis has a promise for you, Toronto. Come the next NBA season, whenever it is, his son Ed is going to be 15 or 20 pounds heavier. Minimum.


+1 said in Apr, 2011

Ayo, Amir…you might want to clean up some of the juvenile comments that get left here. #justsayin’

Chris said in Apr, 2011

cool super kewl

Tim said in Apr, 2011


Buddahfan said in Apr, 2011

May 2011 – Until next season’s training camp whenever that will be start

Increase bench press by 30 – 50 pounds

Clara said in Apr, 2011

theres not one raptor fan that doesnt appreciate amir… and the article mentions some guy name chris bosh, who the hell is that?

Zach Stemer said in Apr, 2011

Love the energy you bring to the court.. Hope you keep thriving your whole career in t dot

Chris Noble said in Apr, 2011

Hey man much love and respect.I love how U love T.o I c it in u everytime I see u. U work hard I have never heard you complain. U R of those athlets that dont let fame and sucsess go to your head .I know U will keep gettin better because of your work ethic. And we need you 2 keep demar here in a couple of years .U r the future of toronto basketball thanks man I’ll always be watchin and cheering

funny said in Apr, 2011

Yo Amir you’re cool as fuck and all but can you tell Demar every time I see him handle the ball I cum. Tell him if he doesn’t have handles or a 3 point shot next year we will boo him. JK. Oh shit I just came again.

Raptors fan said in Apr, 2011

Amir I just wanted to let you know that the fans notice how hard you play every single game even though we have a horrible record unlike some other players *coughANDREAcough*. The Raptors have a good future with you, Ed, and Demar as our core. The real Raptors fans also wanna thank you for sitting the rest of the season out so we can tank and hopefully grab Irving with the #1 pick.

lol@lol.com said in Apr, 2011



Ed Davis said in Apr, 2011

Amir I can’t stand watching you in pain. Holla if you need a massage.

Andrea Bargnani said in Apr, 2011

Hello Amir it is your good friend Andrea Vag-nani. I want to thank you for covering all my weaknesses. I don’t know where I would be without you, Ed, and Reggie grabbing rebounds for me, and covering my man while I watch from the floor and rest my legs. I promise I will get this team to 9th seed next year! I would get us to the playoffs but that would require me actually doing some work!! HAHA! ME working!!!

-Andrea Bargnani

Aaron said in Apr, 2011

The Raptors are blessed to have you on the team, this team is young and fun to watch. I’m excited for next season when Amir is all healed up and we are ready to role with more experience between all our young players plus whoever we get with our lottery balls. I’m so glad Amir signed long term here. He is gonna be a key kog to our franchise and City for years to come!! Much love & respect

Sari B said in Apr, 2011

Anyone who knows me, knows I am your biggest supporter. There is something about you, and the way you play, that brings the biggest smile to my face. Your passion for the game is so inspiring. Triano said it best yesterday when he said “this is his job, but its his passion too.” (We can tell!!) Your love for the city and team is infectious. Your work ethic and ability to play through anything is what makes you our warrior. Most of all, your love for, and interaction with, the fans is so rare and like nothing we’ve ever seen before. I am so sad for this season to end, but when I think about the progress you’ve made, I cant help but get excited for whats to come. I am so thrilled people are starting to finally take notice! You are going to do big things and I surely hope were all along for the ride!

sean said in Apr, 2011

good read. so glad you’re on the raptors. even though you’re so young, it feels like you’re one of the leaders on this team. you gotta whip those boys into shape and start getting them to play d as well as u do! go amir!

Dash said in Apr, 2011

you’ve come a long way! Glad to see your hard work is paying off. Hope to see you in a Raps uniform for a long time! You know Toronto has nothing by love for you.


Kyle Grier said in Apr, 2011

sonnys effort and attitude does not even come close to amirs. amir brings it every night on every play, thats how good players become the greatest. keep it up .. your ceiling is sky high

+1 said in Apr, 2011

Keep on doing what you’re doing….give back to the community, work hard on the floor and at practice. Looking forward to a better season in 2011-12.

AlexC said in Apr, 2011

Amir is Awesome. So happy and proud hes a member of the Raptors. I don’t care about our record this year, as long as the players try their best is all you can ask for. And Amir epitomizes hard work and dedication. The man never takes a day off, is unselfish, keeps in touch with his legion of fans and actually enjoys playing in Toronto. Raptor fans appreciate everything you do. Keep at it Amir. You are great!

James Borbath said in Apr, 2011

I have had the chance to cover this team since Amir has been here in Toronto. I can not tell you how much respect I have earned for him as a person and competitor. He has a warrior like spirit. I told this to him once after a game but I will share it with everyone. I said to him he showed toughness that I had not seen on this team since the days Alvin Williams played as the Raptors starting point guard. For fans of this franchise for the long term I think they would agree that is highest compliment you can pay someone. The love Amir has shown to the fans and people of Toronto and Raptor fans every where is inspiring. In a season after watch another star leave the Raptors once again. He took on the challenge to embrace fans and let him know that he cares. Not enough of that is done by pro athletes today in my opinion. He along with Demar and Sonny created a group that now is called the Young Ones but for me will always be the Young Guns. They as a group and as individuals have embraced the fans and Toronto and it should be applauded. We all hope for better days ahead. But to show this kind of character and love in tough times makes it mean just a little more. So heal up Amir and all the best to you with you basketball future here in Toronto and if the day ever comes beyond.

Matt said in Apr, 2011

Tough season, use it as a learning experience and come back twice as strong!

Abdullahi said in Apr, 2011

Amir, you are the best. i wish you stay with the raps for a while. i like the chem. you and derozan and sonny have cant break that apart.

leon said in Apr, 2011

amir keep working hard toronto loves you

tim chung said in Apr, 2011

AMIR3000 – a player that loves T-dot, passionate about ball and always plays tough! A few very key things this team has often lacked since 1995. I’m happy he is one of the building blocks for the raps!

Leave a comment

Follow Amir

Amir's Wall

statuspress Error: Something bad happened! Try again later.

Amir's Tweets

Amir's Clips


Amir Johnson’s Top 10 Plays

In honor of the 2014/2015 NBA season NBA.com counts down Amir’s top 10 plays as a Toronto Raptor!