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

Blue Steel

December 27th, 2011
12:58 am

Can we afford not to talk with Gilber Arenas?

3× NBA All-Star: 2005, 2006, 2007
3× All-NBA:

Second Team: 2007
Third Team: 2005, 2006

NBA Most Improved Player Award: 2003
NBA All-Star Rookie/Sophomore Game MVP: 2003
NBA regular-season leader, minutes played: 2006 (3,384)
NBA Player of the Month for the month of December 2006. Averaged a league-high 34.1 points per game during December.
NBA 3 time Player of the Week 06–07 season.

21.2 PPG career

Blue Steel

December 27th, 2011
1:04 am


December 27th, 2011
1:39 am

Big Ump;
as I pointed out originally,
I will be checking in from time to time.
So; to reply; (from the previous blog)
the family is fine,
my daughter has returned home from the “Peace Corps” !
[after a 2+ yr absence]

-Peace be with you my Friend-


I may carve out a post here and there about my 2nd love.
Mrs G-dad is still # 1 after 40 some odd years.
but for now … # 2 / B-ball, in general,
I cannot resist posting a few odds and ends.

My point of contention remains the Hawks !
I shall refrain from commenting on the Hawks …
until a change is forthcoming.
They are still my team / I will continue to pull for my guys.

I read the blog daily.

I consider you guys and gals, myself included, a community.
As always, if there is anything that I can do;
or be of help to anyone … figure out how to reach me …
and I’ll be there.


December 27th, 2011
1:59 am

I wonder if Gearon is going to call into radio stations tomorrow to talk about the Falcons that everybody loves :twisted:


December 27th, 2011
2:45 am

Great Story MC, One more vote for Ivan “Mr. Hustle” to make it into the rotation, i especially like the idea of him and ZAZA gooning it up together to rustle some feathers on D. But please stop with the “Agent Zero” requests. Gilbert Arenas = NO THANK YOU! Cant wait to see us roll on humphries’ nets lol! Lets Go Hawks!


December 27th, 2011
2:47 am

Tracy McGrady wisely stepped aside.

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

Ok i think we will be hearing T-Mac saying this all season…(sigh)


December 27th, 2011
2:55 am


Jordan Crawford’s stat line

28 minutes

7 – 12 FG

15 points

4 rebs

1 stl

1 TO

So what’s the problem with him again? Don’t think we could use that on the Hawks?

Wiz lost that game because of the so-called future superstar PG ( John Wall )

- couldn’t make floaters and lay-ups in traffic, and turned the ball over left and right.

- shot 1 – 10 FG after the 1st quarter

- dominated by Deron Williams in the 2nd half of that game.

- AND . . he missed 6 FTs ( 5 in the 2nd half )

Jersey went on a 21 – 5 run in the 4th quarter, with Jordan out the game.


December 27th, 2011
3:07 am

“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 am with JeJe on this one. Why should we not tolerate Ivan’s craziness? We need him to be as crazy as possible.

We need a guy who will get technicals and suspensions during the regular season. That guy will be respected and feared come playoff time.

We need to publish stories that he eats live gerbils for breakfast!

Unleash IVAN!!!!


December 27th, 2011
3:11 am


Yeah, as always “Hollinger hits the mark”… so JoCrawford is the target for his commentaries whilst pretty boy Wall posts a complete trash of a boxscore (certainly with the game to go along) and it’s JoC that is penciled as the culprit for WAS’ woes…

That dude Hollinger is a bloody idiot!

We are talking about a guy who basically is in his actual rookie season since he hardly played with us and only got a couple of dozen games of experience last year.

These guys react based on pre-formated opinions even when reality shows them otherwise.


December 27th, 2011
6:12 am

Melvin there is no need to sign any of those players. We need one legit big thats all. No more retreads. Yes nate a be nice,maybe even posey but who we cutting? Like i said the east was down last year and the bulls over achieved. This is going to be the best season ever almost college atomospheric. The young athletic teams with that leadership especially from thepoint are the ones to watch.


December 27th, 2011
6:37 am

Just Joe

December 27th, 2011
6:44 am

DWill. Teague.
Morrow. Johnson.
James. Williams.
Humphries. Smith.
Petro/Okur. Horford/Pachulia.

Hawks 98 – Nets 86.

The Real Mandingo

December 27th, 2011
7:04 am



December 25th, 2011
10:32 pm

“Gearon’s Hawks are 2-12 in the 2nd round last 3 seasons combined = .166 winning%!!!!!!!! The media and real basketball fans will not give you any kudo’s cause ya suck…..Plus your team played .500 ball almost the entire season except for the 1st 6 games(6 game winning streak) of the season! If GEARON’S HAKWS PLAYED IN THE WESTERN CONFERENCE LAST YEAR THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN A NINTH SEED!! LOL


You call that success Genius? It’s a good thing Daddy left you a pot worth 100’s of millions cause Sir you are living in another universe…lol”

To: Slimjr

I hate to sound like a perfectionist but a record of 2-12 (two wins and twelve losses) reflects a winning percentage of 0.1428 (14.3%) because winning percentage is calculated as total wins/total games played [total wins divided by total games played] – that would be two wins out of fourteen games played or 2/14 (1/7). I am not sure if you have already corrected yourself or if someone has already corrected you. As a result, the Hawks’ (aggregate) playoff record [winning percentage] in the second round for the past three seasons is actually worse at 0.143 (14.3%) than what you stated at 0.166 (16.6%).

I apologize for sounding like the nerd that I am. (lol)

Rev in Tampa

December 27th, 2011
7:14 am

From the article about JJ,

I am glad to hear about his jumpshot improvements, but have f

Rev in Tampa

December 27th, 2011
7:22 am

oops. to finish my thought…

…I have failed to see the improvement in JJ’s jumpshot during the 2 preseason games. JJ, of course, is THE KEY to the Hawks season.


December 27th, 2011
8:16 am

Just read the column piece on Joe Johnson.

I’d be curious to know how do MC and the AJC go about deciding what to list or include as a BLOG article or not. I would love to have had the opportunity to add my 2 cents in regarding Joe Johnson.

Was there a pre-deal made that that story would not be subjected to fans responding to the story? Where you trying to “protect” Joe’s feelings or what? Just asking.


December 27th, 2011
8:24 am


December 27th, 2011
8:16 am

No one is preventing you from venting your opinion about JJ and the piece.

It’s not that the blog is so rigid that you have to stay “in topic” :-D so get it out (I know that what is coming is negative thou).


December 27th, 2011
8:49 am

Anyone remember Jordan Crawford? That dude’s gonna be a baller, we could have used him…


December 27th, 2011
8:55 am

“I will tell you that if we are at the trade deadline and we think we are missing that piece that we think will take us over the top, we [would pay the tax],” Gearon said.

More lies from Gearon. You idiot, you guys have been missing that piece for years! What makes this year any different?

With all these free agents out there, yet they still trot out Marvin Williams, they add the Geritol Gallopers and a soft PF who will only shoot 3’s. They still refuse to address the problem they have had and i dont even need to bring it up cause we all know what that is.

Typical Atlanta ran sports team. Sports has been in Atlanta for over a half a century and they have 1 championship to sho for it. And guys like Gearon, Sund, Gonzales and Wren all talk about their “Core” players. What a joke!

Atleast the Falcons have a passionate owner in Blank, they just need coaches that know how to adjust during games and shore up a defensive unit…the difference here is that they WILL make adjustments this offseason not like the Hawks and Braves!!!


December 27th, 2011
9:02 am

Blue Steel, I agree with you about Gilber Arenas. I’m surprise the hawks hasn’t already signed him – that is if he’s no longer under contract. The hawks could go deep in the playoffs if they had his scoring which was 1 of the hawks biggest obstacle(rank 26th in scoring) last season. Mr.Sund, sign this guy.


December 27th, 2011
9:03 am



December 27th, 2011
9:38 am


December 27th, 2011
10:22 am

Creo que tenemos mas profundidad de banquillo que el año pasado.Estoy deseando ver a estos chicos esta noche.Espero que ganemos y que Teague y Horford hagan buenos numeros(hoy los tengo en la fantasy).Respecto a Ivan Johnson seria bueno que le trataran con la misma profesionalidad con la que el esta jugando,y se dejaran de sacar trapos sucios totalmente irrelevantes acerca de su conducta anterior.El ha demostrado mas coraje que algunos jugadores con estatus superior en este equipo.Si se le dieran las mismas oportunidades que a Marvin(es increible la paciencia que estan teniendo con este chico)creo que Ivan podria hacerse con el puesto de titular en unos meses.Una ultima cosa:con una rotacion tan amplia el “joesistema”sobra ya en los hawks,el es un jugador mas y punto;si no tira con acierto al banquillo por favor,tenemos chicos que saben meter canastas tambien.No tenemos por que suicidarnos en sus frecuentes noches en las que no sabe seleccionar sus tiros de una manera adecuada,ni tenemos por que aceptar que Joe es nuestro jugador franquicia a menos que lo demuestre(cosa que no hace desde los 25 años).Bueno,nada mas,mañana escribire acerca del partido contra los Nets.Un abrazo y a disfrutar!!!


December 27th, 2011
10:34 am

Just a few stats on Arenas last year: He started strong, then faded and fell out of favor:

Playoffs- 1 double figure game, and he just didn’t look consistent.
Could he help our bench? I think so, if you give him regular minutes. He would be a good help to Joe, and if he knows his role, he might show up every night.
I like him at the lower level of the salary scale too! He will give us more than Stack or Sloan. Forget the youth movement…these guys need to win now!


December 27th, 2011
10:35 am

“His speed and quickness just makes us a totally different team”

I guess LD didn’t realize this last year

Rev in Tampa

December 27th, 2011
10:36 am

If any of you need some manure for your winter gardening you can find it here:

It is the same old tired crap that they have been dumping on the Hawks every year.


December 27th, 2011
10:48 am

Big Ray, the big lights are now on.

No more excuses for this team….

Can’t count on Gearon and Sund to load up the bench. The players have to play with what they have.

The youth movement is over.

Big Ray

December 27th, 2011
11:10 am

He just plays hard and there’s not enough guys like that.”

Including on this team. Let’s hope it’s infectious.


December 27th, 2011
11:18 am

is it 7pm already?

is it 7pm already?

is it 7pm already?

is it 7pm already?

is it 7pm already?

is it 7pm already?

is it 7pm already?


December 27th, 2011
11:18 am


did you get my postcard? :-D


December 27th, 2011
11:30 am

Is there any way for the Hawks to keep the rights to Keith Benson and let him develop in the D League for a little while. I think we may regret cutting him.

I would have preferred keeping him and putting him in the starting lineup with

He would have done well in that line-up, by mid season would be impact.
Gotta play the young players to let them develop

Reserves would be
I Johnson

Rev in Tampa

December 27th, 2011
11:31 am

Will I sit in the livingroom and visit with my mother-in-law who just came into town or watch the Hawks tonight? Oh, the difficult decisions that press upon us everyday…


December 27th, 2011
11:32 am

Ditto on youth movement. The future is NOW. JJ healthy; MW healthy; JS slimmed down; a real point guard with defensive skills so our bigs can stay down low.

Why keep a rook on the bench to watch when you can have a seasoned vet there, ready and willing to do what it takes. Stack has already voiced the Win Now philosophy. I like that. He won’t play much, but if he does, you can bet your behind he will know how to call a time out if one is warrented; something a rook could never do.

If this team stays healthy, they should get a good start. If you watched Sunday play, it was kind of shaky. 10 turnovers from Kobe…Dallas struggling….Hawks should come out of the gate just like Miami. I think our bench is stronger, even if their starters are better.


December 27th, 2011
11:34 am

rev, not sure what your problem is with what they predicted i see us as a 33 to 36 game team this year, more towards the bottom than the top number. our final position this year depends on what other teams do and how far they fall during the season not how we do, as it was last year. the knicks have moved ahead of us the magic behind, what remains is how far the magic fold and how much teams like indiana and the sixers do last year after making some noise at the end of last year. we should stay in the playoffs and allow us the chance to flip the switch.

what i warn myself about is how this team can quit on a dime. if one or two cogs go down and they go on a backward run it could get ugly. i still scratch my head at how many blow out losses they had last year and it wasnt by accident. they say they are a team that likes adversity and doubters well have at it. they also dont get beyond the second round for sure and they cant defeat any of the top four like last year as none of those teams are as one dimensional as the magic turned out to be.

i am still learning where everyone went to try and get a handle on what to expect this year but already some surprises as always in the first three weeks.

want to wonder if there is a vegas line on how long it takes for the bucks to implode with skiles having to work with jackson and jennings? man it might get real explosive there.

so rev what does your divine connection give as a prediction on the season and what exactly did you see so wrong on the espn predictions? care to get on a limb?


December 27th, 2011
11:36 am

I watched Ivan play all last year up in Erie in the Dleague..let me tell you…..Hawk fans are in for a treat!! dude is a beast. Relentless!!!. give him happy pills to curb all the “hulk” anger and he can be an all star in the NBA. Enjoy your season Hawk fans!!!


December 27th, 2011
11:38 am

Yo bigTime….guarantee Ivan is starting by game 10!!!


December 27th, 2011
11:46 am

Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs Horford on their nuptials.


December 27th, 2011
11:53 am

ill …. what, they got kids already? what did they name them?


December 27th, 2011
12:10 pm

in a magical perfect world for hawks fans ivan turns out to be the last piece and rugged down under guy that lets al and josh expand onto their float outside roles with impunity andwe suddenly look as vicious as the heat or bulls. he somehow does all the dirty wirk and rescues the basg and fans cant get enough of the now balanced attack of josh at three, al at five with no boss obligations and jj and jeff playing their roles immaculately.

man what drug am i on?


December 27th, 2011
12:11 pm

look to see Horford exhausted after this weekend…

…for Mrs. Horford sake, let’s hope that he worked harder in the post with her instead of settling for jumpers… :-D

Buddy Grizzard

December 27th, 2011
12:12 pm

Great reporting MC… Ivan has a kid on the way? That’s all I needed to hear… no way he screws this up. Sund has handed Las Vegas Larry just about the best roster available given the Hawks’ salary constraints. Ivan Johnson is a better player than T-Mac and probably has a better attitude. Vlad can ball. Zaza finally has someone (Ivan) beside him who is not afraid to bang. Great job Rick Sund… I’m more optimistic than I have been since Mookie was here.


December 27th, 2011
12:16 pm


I saw a lot of footage earlier today on Ivan and he is… tchan tchan tchaaaaaaannnn…

a perimeter player!!!! He loooooves shooting jumpers (and has a decent touch).

another intriguing factor… he seems to be a true Jamal on steroids: even on Erie’s wins he posted 8 out of 10 times a negative ± stat… even when he scored 35 points and racked up 10 rebounds and 5 assists…

Also, there are reports that he coasts on D…

MAYBE (huge one), he will adapt his game to the big league and understands that he will not survive in the NBA trying to be “the man with the rock” but being the “bully down low”.

HUUUGE maybe…

The Truth

December 27th, 2011
12:21 pm

I think it safe to say coach Drew has more scoring options than last year. The questions become who’s hot and who’s not, whether Drew will make the proper adjustment at the proper time or play the right player at the right time. This season may be more about Drew coaching than the Hawks new additions.

Buddy Grizzard

December 27th, 2011
12:21 pm

The only person who can really screw this up is Las Vegas Larry. Josh Smith is going to the All-Star game this year. Joe Johnson came back in great shape and wants to prove that last year’s down performance was due to injuries… he’s an All-Star again this year.

Al Horford has the most questionable attitude among the starters. He didn’t come to camp in great shape and didn’t use the lockout as an opportunity to strengthen his body to make himself more durable in the post. He still wants somebody else on the team’s job… He wants Josh Smith’s job instead of doing the job he’s been assigned.

But the biggest question facing the Hawks is the learning curve for Las Vegas Larry. He made some of the worst coaching decisions in the history of the NBA last year. His personality management was on par with John Kuester’s. But I’ve said before on these blogs I think Las Vegas CAN learn and WILL learn and WILL BE BETTER this year. I hope he proves me right because if I’m wrong true Hawks fans will spend the rest of our lives wondering what could have been if this team had an NBA-caliber coach.


December 27th, 2011
12:26 pm


I’m with you on Mike Smith. If the Falcons lose their playoff game (making them 0-3 in the playoffs under Smitty), at the very least, I think they need to replace both coordinators.

Just Joe

December 27th, 2011
12:27 pm

Someone should make sure that Ivan fully understands the February deadline for non-guaranteed contracts. That should keep any young player motivated, especially one that’s not so young anymore.

If he can go toe-to-toe with Udonis Haslem, Big Baby Davis, Brandon Bass, Tyler Hansborough, Drew Gooden, and Taj Gibson, for 10 minutes a night, I’ll be pleasantly surprised. That’s the role we need filled. That’s also the role the Knicks are looking to fill, supposedly with a run at KMart later in the season.

Buddy Grizzard

December 27th, 2011
12:28 pm

Keep in mind that Phil Jackson made more money in one month of coaching than Las Vegas Larry has made in his entire career for one reason… personality management. I honestly don’t think Phil Jackson is that much better than Vegas at designing and calling plays. But the key is personality management, and only Kuester has been demonstrably worse at it than Las Vegas Larry in recent NBA history.


December 27th, 2011
12:29 pm

is it 7pm already?

is it 7pm already?

is it 7pm already?

is it 7pm already?

is it 7pm already?

is it 7pm already?

is it 7pm already?

is it 7pm already?

is it 7pm already?

is it 7pm already?

is it 7pm already?

is it 7pm already?

is it 7pm already?

is it 7pm already?


December 27th, 2011
12:33 pm


“Yo bigTime….guarantee Ivan is starting by game 10!!!”

From what I seen he reminds me of Truck Robinson, power player that can score mid-range, Truck was about 6-8 and lead league in rebounding, Barkley type player
I hope he does, was not knocking Ivan, but Benson has a future in the league also. I would have liked to have both.

Hawks Blog Legend Worldwide Clyde

December 27th, 2011
12:45 pm

Don’t worry Falcons fans. Remember we have the Hawks.