Atlanta Hawks: ‘Old rookie’ Ivan Johnson vows to keep his cool after past blowups

Hope you had a good holiday, blog people. The Hawks were back in action today after a break and that means I am, too . . .

Today was the first time I got to ask Larry Drew about the decision to waive Keith Benson, the team’s only draft pick in June.

“It really came down to the progress of Ivan Johnson,” Drew said. “To be perfectly honest, we didn’t know he would come on the way he did. He’s had, not a good training camp, he’s had a phenomenal training camp. His motor is something you can’t teach and he brings that motor every practice. You guys see the way he plays in games. He just plays hard and there’s not enough guys like that.”

Johnson, 27, said he wasn’t sure he’d ever make the league but, before his mother died in 2007, he promised her he would keep trying.

“As you get older your dream starts to fade after a while,” he said. “You have just got to keep pushing, man. That’s what I kept doing.”

Fans at Atlanta’s exhibition game against Charlotte Thursday seemed to take a liking to Johnson. He also was a popular topic of discussion among my Twitter followers and my blog people.

Johnson said he wasn’t aware of the support from fans but appreciates that they like his high-energy style.

“That’s how you’ve got to be,” he said. “I’m an old rookie. Being 27, I’ve got to put in a lot of work.”

Johnson is an intimidating dude–the joke among Hawks staff was who would tell Johnson he was cut if the day came. He’s built like a linebacker and always seems to look angry. One day in practice Johnson came barreling down the lane with the ball and Tracy McGrady wisely stepped aside.

“Ain’t no [bleeping] way I’m getting in front of him,” T-Mac said.

Johnson said he’s not as mean as he looks (”I’m really a nice, cool dude”) but his temper had hurt his chances of getting an NBA shot after he had good production in the D-League.

Johnson was banned by the Korean Basketball League last year after what an official described as “a record of frequent misconducts” culminating with an obscene gesture at a game official. Johnson also was reportedly run off from Oregon for “anger management” issues and last season was benched by the Erie BayHawks after earning too many technical fouls.

“That’s just my emotions for the game,” Johnson said. “If I feel I’m being cheated, my emotions, they go crazy sometimes. That’s what I’ve been working on. I try to keep my cool. As long as I keep my cool, I’m good.”

Obviously there won’t be much tolerance for such antics from a back-of-the-rotation guy for the Hawks. Johnson said he’s motivated to stay level-headed because he has a baby due in March.

“I have been working so hard to get here over the years,” he said. “Now that I’m here, ain’t no messing it up.”

Drew said the Hawks checked into Johnson’s background before signing him and are satisfied he won’t be a problem.

“He’s moved on and we feel good about moving on as well,” Drew said.

Practice report

  • Jeff Teague (ankle) participated in practice and said he’s good to go for tomorrow: “It’s a little sore but it will be OK.’ Larry Drew said he wanted to see how Teague looked after practice but, remember, it was an injury that derailed Teague in camp last year so I’m thinking he won’t sit. “Not this time,” Teague said, smiling.
  • Drew on the team’s depth: “We have added a lot to our bench from an experience standpoint and I think from a depth standpoint. I think it’s going to be a matter of us being healthy as much as we can. It may be a situation where have to use the bench a lot more than in the past.”
  • The Hawks are in a better spot than those teams who had two weeks to throw together a lot of main cogs. Still, rotation guys McGrady and Vladmir Radmaonivic are new and Jannero Pargo and Willie Green are brand new.
  • “They are still trying to learn what we do,” Drew said. “Do they have it down 100 percent? No. We have been trying to cram in a lot in a short period of time. I am sure heads are spinning a little bit right now. Once we get started with it I am sure they will adjust and become more comfortable.”
  • Drew on nine games in 12 days, something that’s new for all of the Hawks except ‘99 lockout vets T-Mac and Jerry Stackhouse: “It’s going to be a true challenge from the standpoint of basketball and the travel as well. I’ve been preaching to the guys since Day 1 about taking care of themselves. It not only becomes a physical drain but a mental drain as well. It’s going to be important that we all get our proper rest and eat right.”
  • Unlike Johnson, D-League refugee Donald Sloan figured his NBA shot would eventually come after the Kings cut him in camp last year: “With the amount of work I put in and the relationships I’ve built with coaches throughout draft process and last year in the D-League, I figured there was no way I could be denied this year. It kind of worked in my favor this year. I stayed positive throughout.”
  • I wrote a story about Joe Johnson. You can read it here if you’d like.


Michael Cunningham
, Hawks beat

169 comments Add your comment

Sautee

December 26th, 2011
7:33 pm

Frist. Bill Frist

Sautee

December 26th, 2011
7:36 pm

MC,

You’re timing was excellent.

bigdave

December 26th, 2011
7:38 pm

Wizards team pretty exciting..

Dept. Of Unintended Irony

December 26th, 2011
7:38 pm

“MC,

You’re timing was excellent.”

You are timing was excellent? LMFAO

YO YO YO

December 26th, 2011
7:40 pm

Nice collection of goons. Zaza, Ivan, Stackhouse, etc.

Show me stated

December 26th, 2011
7:41 pm

I feel more positive about this years bench than last year’s. Of course we’ll miss jamal’s production but overall i think everybody will contribute enough to help da starters out and make it out to be a good year. Go Hawks!

Steven A

December 26th, 2011
7:47 pm

Hope Ivan makes it into the starting rotation. Other than Josh, he is the only player i have seen play
hard.

BoneKollector

December 26th, 2011
7:48 pm

Great Write up MC

Beat Writer of the year goes to Mr. Cunningham

Astro Joe

December 26th, 2011
7:50 pm

Thank goodness the Fox News vs. MSNBC debates are over. About to check out free NBA League Pass to see how other teams are looking before watching those Dirty Birds win a big road game.

MattP

December 26th, 2011
7:52 pm

“Ain’t no [bleeping] way I’m getting in front of him,” T-Mac said.

That made me laugh. I am glad they keep Ivan, he really reminds me of Josh Smith. Both are basically under size PF, and great on both ends of the court. .

Hoops

December 26th, 2011
7:53 pm

MC,

Is there any talk about the Hawks making a trade at some point before the trade deadline?

Najeh Davenpoop

December 26th, 2011
7:56 pm

I don’t know whether this New Jersey-Washington game is a sign that New Jersey is really horrible or that Washington is really good. We’ll find out soon enough, I guess…

MattP

December 26th, 2011
8:01 pm

Najeh,

NJ doesn’t have Lopez and he is alot of there offense. They will get destroyed until they get him back.

FreshFromATL

December 26th, 2011
8:05 pm

MC,

Let me know when I can purchase my Ivan Johnson jersey.

FreshFromATL

December 26th, 2011
8:09 pm

Yo Yo Yo,

Co-sign 1000%. Just what the Hawks needed IMO.

Just Joe

December 26th, 2011
8:15 pm

Pachulia, Collins, and I. Johnson will all play physical. Need one more big in the same mold, and one less combo guard.

yardie

December 26th, 2011
8:17 pm

What does it say about the selection process for the Hawks if they cut Benson and Sye. Who the hell is judging our talent. Two wasted picks two years in a row.

KevinM

December 26th, 2011
8:22 pm

Speaking of bad draft picks, how much have we improved since Sund became our GM? Where is Gearon when you need to get logical questions answered instead of his self promotion of being 1 of only 3 teams to be in the 2nd round 3 years counting? Ummm, doesn’t that sound like we haven’t improved much?
My bold 2012 prediction: Since we have been beaten in the playoffs by a different team each year since we started making the playoffs again, I predict we will have yet a different team we haven’t faced in the playoffs to defeat us since Boston, Cleveland, Orlando and Chicago.
Its starting to sound like the Bobby Cox years isn’t it?

mykhalc

December 26th, 2011
8:29 pm

@MC…excellent article on Joe…1st time i’ve EVER heard him say he wanted to be great. maybe he’ll decide to play and act like THE real difference maker for this team. his lack of on-the-court leadership over the years has left a lot to be desired!!! THIS team leaves a LOT to be desired…Joe crankin’ his game up a notch or two would be a great place to start…to an otherwise dismal lookin’ team…IMHO

MattP

December 26th, 2011
8:32 pm

I agree with you KevinM, I bet we will lose to Miami or NY this year.

I find it funny how he makes it sound like we are a top team just because we made it to the 2nd round 3 years in a row. We got embarrassed 2 years in a row getting swept 0-4 in the second round both by a different team. It’s like they don’t even watch and see what their team does.

i_am_soulstar

December 26th, 2011
8:34 pm

Awesome,

Now I feel justified in calling him Ivan the Terrible (although I’m sure someone in Korea, the D-League, and the Atl Hawks camp beat me to it).

FreshFromATL

December 26th, 2011
8:41 pm

Why does it sounds like Yardie, KevinM and MattP are all one individual having a continuous conversation under different screen names, lol? I mean I’ve seen a number of negative posters on here but that dialogue is just weird.

i_am_soulstar

December 26th, 2011
8:43 pm

Happy to read that about Joe wanting to be great. I was happy to see him working with Kevin Durant over the summer as well. Who better to work out with than the scoring champ. Hopefully it does him some good.

Slimjr

December 26th, 2011
8:43 pm

Good stuff IVAN!!

FYI FALCONS ARE 1-12 last 13 MNF GAMES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Brutal……………Being a Fan in Georgia..

MattP

December 26th, 2011
8:48 pm

FreshFromATL, haha we are not the same. Well, I am not the same.

Michael Cunningham

December 26th, 2011
8:59 pm

@Hoops: “MC, Is there any talk about the Hawks making a trade at some point before the trade deadline?”

not right now. i think they will see what they have first, no?

@FreshFromATL“MC, Let me know when I can purchase my Ivan Johnson jersey.”

i would probably wait until after Feb. 10

EmirS.

December 26th, 2011
9:01 pm

“I don’t know whether this New Jersey-Washington game is a sign that New Jersey is really horrible or that Washington is really good. We’ll find out soon enough, I guess…” – Najeh

Your thoughts now?

KevinM

December 26th, 2011
9:16 pm

2nd that Fresh…I have my own concept to what this team is/isn’t doing.
The moves they are making are cosmetic and minimal IMO. They aren’t interested in building a contender. They are satisfied with being competitive and thinking that a new fan base will come in and throw roses at ASG for their brilliance…it ain’t happenin’.
As long as this blog is available and other outlets tell you the ‘real’ truth about the ASG, then they can’t ’spin’ their agenda as easily as they want to….

Keep up the excellent updates MC. Don’t let Gearon try to point his finger at you about being ‘unfair’ to he and his associates. Keep holding them accountable as long as they have the reins here.

Grandmatser JeJe

December 26th, 2011
9:41 pm

“Obviously there won’t be much tolerance for such antics from a back-of-the-rotation guy for the Hawks. Johnson said he’s motivated to stay level-headed because he has a baby due in March.”

There better be tolerance for these antics. We haven’t had a true emotional player for ages. Instead we have a bunch of guys who have been here 6 years who don’t talk and show no leadership.

Welcome, Ivan.

GEARON HAS MADE IT CLEAR HE DOES NOT WANT TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP

Grandmatser JeJe

December 26th, 2011
9:42 pm

I just read the piece on Joe Johnson and there is not one mention from him on “WANTING TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP.”

I have not heard one player, coach, or owner of this franchise say “I want to win a ring. Ring or bust.”

Pathetic

doc

December 26th, 2011
9:43 pm

Johnson is an intimidating dude–the joke among Hawks staff was who would tell Johnson he was cut if the day came. He’s built like a linebacker and always seems to look angry. heh heh chuckle

keep it up ivan but be cool. a lot of folks would like to see you succeed.

Grandmatser JeJe

December 26th, 2011
9:43 pm

Gearon said we will have a top 5 payroll. WE ARE 6 MILLION BELOW THE 5TH HIGHEST PAYROLL. WE ARE 9TH NOW

AM I THE ONLY PERSON WHO SEES THIS?

HOW CAN HE SAY WE HAVE THE 5TH HIGHEST PAYROLL THIS YEAR

SMH

Fundamentals

December 26th, 2011
10:05 pm

Sounds like he needs to waive a player and ink us a quality player for 6+ million or he’s full of crappy.

tony

December 26th, 2011
10:09 pm

I like Ivan Johnson toughness but I need to see more of him. The hawks need a scorer who can score in various ways, especially late in close games when defenses are tighter.

Like this guy.

http://youtu.be/pj4D_B0gT48

Grandmatser JeJe

December 26th, 2011
10:10 pm

Lol @ Jordan Crawford.

Wiz on 11-0 run after yanking him. Hollinger said he has to learn what a good shot is.

Yeah, I sure miss Jordan Crawford!

FreshFromATL

December 26th, 2011
10:24 pm

Jeje,

Jordan Crawfors will NEVER start on a playoff team. I thought Jamal too questionable shots, he don’t have nothing on Jordan…

FreshFromATL

December 26th, 2011
10:25 pm

doc

December 26th, 2011
10:26 pm

g jeje

me too

[...] Atlanta Hawks: &#39Old rookie&#39 Ivan Johnson vows to maintain his neat following previous blowups Larry Drew mentioned he wanted to see how Teague appeared after follow but, don’t forget, it was an damage that derailed Teague in camp very last calendar year so I&#39m considering he won&#39t sit. “Not this time,” Teague stated, smiling. Drew on the crew&#39s depth: “We have extra a whole lot … Examine far more on Atlanta Publication Structure (web site) [...]

Grandmaster JeJe

December 26th, 2011
11:04 pm

Humphries had 21 and 16 tonight.

If we lose tomorrow, you will know why.

I dont understand why we lose to awful teams in the East every year.

Since they are coming off a b2b and their roster sucks, we should win by 20 tomorrow.

Grandmaster JeJe

December 26th, 2011
11:06 pm

Fresh,

I made that JC2 comment in regards to the ppl here who actually think we needed this guy.

He is gonna be better than MJ. LOL!

FreshFromATL

December 26th, 2011
11:26 pm

JeJe,

I hear you bro, there are A LOT of delusional people that post on this blog. Just yesterday, there were people that was actually outraged at the Hawks for cutting Pape Sy and Keith Benson, LMFAO and SMH. And that individual that said Jordan Crawford would be better than MJ should be banned from posting. At most, and this is being nice, Jordan Crawford ceiling is going to be growing into a Flip Murray type of player.

doc

December 26th, 2011
11:42 pm

gdad, falcons are an eternity from being in the realm of the pack or the saints. mike smith might be the football woody equivalent. whooo, did i just say that? they have too many breakdowns and give up too many big plays when it is crunch time. brees, 8/8 on third down and 3/4 in red zone early in the game. pretty good playa, eh. fun to watch a guy in command of his game during a career.

FreshFromATL

December 26th, 2011
11:44 pm

WOW!!

The Warrior are laying the blueprint for the Hawks on beating the Bulls. Swarming defense and getting out to run…Bulls look tired.

Bronn

December 26th, 2011
11:46 pm

Good to know. And now Ivan Johnson, after all this praise, will play about 20 minutes this season.

Melvin

December 26th, 2011
11:55 pm

Keith Bogans, Gilbert Arenas, Michael Redd, Nate Robinson, Al Thronton, James Posey and Andrei Kirilenko are available to be signed. Get rid of Sloan, Pargo and possibly Stack to sign 2 or 3 of these guys.

Grandmaster JeJe

December 27th, 2011
12:50 am

Melvin,

We need BIGS. Id sign one f those guys and also get DAN FREAKING GADZURIC

Blue Steel

December 27th, 2011
12:52 am

If this guy was 6′10″ or more wed have our center! Love that attitude. I like the Nate Robinson idea. Why is Gilbert Arenas available? Is he carrying his guns? Let him and IJ be roommates.. that should be a bang!

Lol

Grandmaster JeJe

December 27th, 2011
12:52 am

Lol Fresh-

Jordan Crawford said he will be better than MJ..

And while it is weird to draft guys then cut them, Benson and Sy WOULD NOT and WILL NOT make another roster this year. They are not good basketball players

Grandmaster JeJe

December 27th, 2011
12:53 am