Joe Johnson didn’t exactly take it back today. He was mad that fans booed the Hawks throughout their Game 3 loss to Orlando and afterward told reporters he “could care less if they showed up or not.”
Asked if he had any more thoughts on the topic after sleeping on it, J.J. said:
“It was tough. I don’t think we’ve heard the boos like that in the five years since I’ve been here. When I first got here, man, there were probably like 100 people out there in those seats. I won’t say everybody is a diehard, but they’ve shown us a lot of support over the years. In the heat of the battle you tend to say a lot of things. But it was tough, man. I was a little [ticked] off but I am over now.”
His comments have led to speculation that he sounds like a guy who doesn’t like it in Atlanta anymore and can’t wait to leave via free agency this summer. But Johnson said that’s taking it too far.
“Don’t read in between all of that,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed my years here. They’ve been great. We’ll see what happens Monday.”
That’s not a farewell speech, is it?
“No, not at all,” he said.
Some context on J.J.’s postgame comments. Normally he takes a while to get dressed before he faces reporters. But after Game 3 he was just out of the shower and immediately beckoned media when he made it to his stall. The question that led to the inflammatory quote was whether fans booing affected him or the team.
So does he care if fans show up for Game 4 tomorrow?
“If they come out and show us support, it would be great,” he said.
During a separate interview, Woody also touched on the fans and their expectations. The question was regarding Al Horford’s contention that the Hawks are a loose, fun-loving group that sometimes doesn’t know when it’s time to get serious (an observation I’ve made as well).
Woody agreed with that and then talked about how in the past he’s been viewed as a coach who is too demanding, how Hawks players don’t make negative headlines off the court, and then about the team’s chemistry:
“We do have a young group of good guys who do like each other. But when you face adversity, sometimes guys stray off and you start to point fingers. That ain’t always good in terms of your team. Sometimes you find out a lot about people when you do lose. We haven’t lost very many games this year, especially in this building. And people expect you to win. That’s a good thing. I think coming into the season, I made that very clear that expectations are going to be higher this year, and they should be. You should want it that way. People are going to expect much more than they’ve ever expected even though we’v4e never been an elite team, we are trying to get to that level. People sometimes expect too much, especially here in this arena where we’ve been pretty successful the last couple years. We’ve kind of spoiled our fans a little bit. Maybe that’s why they turned last night in terms of the boos and things of that nature because it was a lackluster game on our part.”