Brooklyn Nets swingman Joe Johnson always gets booed when he comes back to Philips Arena and faces his former team. But the boos Johnson heard in Game 1 on Sunday afternoon sounded louder and more forceful than usual. Every time Johnson touched the ball, he was booed mercilessly by the sellout crowd. Johnson silenced the home faithful on occasion, scoring 17 points. But he missed all six of his 3-point shots, and the Nets lost to the Atlanta Hawks, 99-92, in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. The question is: Why? Why do Hawks fans boo Johnson? And why are they so upset with him? “[My Atlanta friend] and I just sit back and laugh about it,” said Johnson, who still lives in Atlanta in the offseason. “And they ask the question, ‘Why?’ But none of us can really come up with an answer, so we just move forward with it, and it’s not that big of a deal.” I asked local bartenders, workers and fans near my hotel, and they say Johnson never won anything here, played too much one-on-one basketball, didn’t care enough and was overpaid. I asked a local reporter who used to cover Johnson, and she said it all stems from a misconstrued comment he made following a 30-point home loss to Orlando in the 2010 playoffs, in which he was booed: “That doesn’t bother me, and I hope it doesn’t bother anyone in this locker room,” Johnson said then. “It’s about us in this locker room. We could care less if [fans] showed up.” In seven seasons with the Hawks, Johnson averaged 20.9 points, 5.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds in 38.8 minutes per game. He made six All-Star teams and Atlanta made five straight playoff appearances. Prior to his arrival in 2005-06, the Hawks had not made the postseason since 1998-99. From 1999-2000 to 2004-05, they averaged a record of 27-55. Johnson brought the franchise back to prominence, and eventually took a six-year, $124 million max contract offer from management to stay in Atlanta following the 2009-10 campaign. But he was never able to live up to that deal. The Hawks traded Johnson to the Nets two summers later, shedding the remaining four years and $89 million on his deal from their books.
Despite success, Joe Johnson still booed in Atlanta
ESPN New York | Apr 21