Atlanta Hawks: Ivan Johnson back after offseason of reflection

Vivlamore reporting. Here is my story on Ivan Johnson for Thursday’s print edition of the AJC. The Hawks play at the Spurs tonight.

Ivan Johnson is not much for conversation. In fact, the Hawks’ hulking power forward will often use one word when three will do.

Johnson enters his second NBA season in was has been a tumultuous basketball career not without incident even as a 27-year-old rookie last year.

So, Johnson spent an offseason of reflection.

“It was a good time to think some things through about what I did last year, what I could do to make things better,” Johnson said. “It was a thinking offseason on how I could make my second year a better year.”

What was his conclusion?

“Keep my hands to my side and just play,” he said with a diamond-encrusted smile.

Johnson and the Hawks played at San Antonio Wednesday in the second exhibition game of the season.

Johnson was a surprise addition to the Hawks’ roster last season after a strong training camp. The 6-foot-8, 255-pounder became a fan favorite for his menacing appearance and physical style. His wayward college career and anger-management issues, including a ban from the Korean Basketball League, have been well documented.

Johnson’s temper did get him into trouble on a couple occasions last season. Coach Larry Drew sent him home from a trip to Orlando and fined him after Johnson argued with teammates on the bench. The NBA also fined Johnson $25,000 for giving fans the middle finger while leaving the court following Atlanta’s final playoff loss to Boston.

The Hawks made a qualifying offer to Johnson, a one-year, $966,000 deal for the restricted free agent, this summer. Drew then made two trips to California for separate conversations about what will be expected this season. The two had breakfast on one trip and Drew watched Johnson work out on the other.

“When the decision was made that we were going to bring him back as part of our team I thought it was important that I reach out,” Drew said of his trips to Los Angeles. “He’s always been a guy who I truly admire. He is one of my favorites.

“In both meetings we had a very good discussion about my expectations from him. When I left the meeting, we were on the same page.”

Johnson admits that his issues last season centered on being an old rookie. He was sent home from Orlando after failing to give up his seat on the bench to a veteran.

“I knew I had some rookie duties to do but I wasn’t going to be put through all the rookie duties because I’m an older rookie,” Johnson said.

Johnson appeared in 56 games last season, averaging 16.7 minutes per game. He finished his initial NBA campaign with averages of 6.4 points and 4.0 rebounds. He was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for April. Johnson led the Hawks in field-goal percentage (.513), which was the third-best mark among all NBA first-year players.

Of Drew’s trips to California, Johnson said the coach was “seeing how much I was working out, seeing if I was working out.” Drew wanted Johnson to come to training camp in shape. He was told he would have an expanded role, meaning more playing time, this season.

The Hawks coach covets Johnson’s physical style. He gives the team an edge – when properly controlled.

“He understands that,” Drew said.

Johnson split is offseason between Dallas and Los Angeles for workouts. He said he did basketball drills weightlifting and running. “A whole bunch of running,” is how Johnson explained the regime that including workouts in the mountains and at the beach.

“That is just my mindset,” Johnson said of his physical style. “I always like to go hard, throw my body around.”


* Up-tempo offense can’t forget about the low post

* Hawks players to serve at The Varsity

* Harris cleared for full-contact practice

* Q and A with Anthony Tolliver

* Hawks want Teague to be more vocal

* Tolliver out with scratched cornea

* Exhibition season opens with win over Heat

Follow me on Twitter at ajchawks

250 comments Add your comment


October 10th, 2012
2:20 pm

Johnson admits that his issues last season centered on being an old rookie. He was sent home from Orlando after failing to give up his seat on the bench to a veteran..

Thanks for shedding some light C-Viv.


October 10th, 2012
2:36 pm

** {..carried over from previous blog..} **

Mr slimjr sir -&- others …..

Post Game 101:

Some people need to differentiate between “post moves”
and a “post game”.
For example:
Al is a strong finisher.
Al has below avg to poor *low post moves.
Yet; `tis possible for Al to have a strong post game.
Why ? you might say.
His ability to finish:
1. The Hawks ‘now’ have penetrating guards that can drive and dish.
2. Previously that has not been the plan;
so we have not seen that particular plan implemented by he or Josh
very often. [Al and Noah made a living at U of Fla with this concept]
3. Utilization of the Pick and Roll provides opportunities
to finish w/o a post move.
4. A running game provides more opps. to finish on the break.


I said previously Al had below avg low post moves.
Al has a better game from the high post and the short corner.
I would dare to say “excellent”.

The `new ‘ Hawk style will benefit both Al and Josh.

Ergo … Al has an above avg “post game” !

Now slimmer;
you and I have both been mutually respectful of one another.

I would like for that to continue.

However, to do so, you must bring more to the debate than rhetoric.

I do not mind if your attacks on Al have merit;
to continually submit a petty harangue w/o logic or reasoning
is less than what I would have preludiously ascribed from you.

My preference is to keep the debate focused on basketball.
I am a purist.

But, what do I know ?
I`m just an irascible ol` Jack-ass.


October 10th, 2012
2:40 pm

Ivan is a Hoss !

Why should he give up his seat to a vet ?

He` was different – @ 27 yrs old – was older than two of our capt.`s.

Sent Home ?
Has Josh ever been sent home for the same horse-shoo~shoo ?

Once again … LD`s entitlement system.


October 10th, 2012
2:48 pm

Sent home for that? Damn, I knew he had punked someone out. wander who it was?


October 10th, 2012
2:49 pm

He was sent home from Orlando after failing to give up his seat on the bench to a veteran.
Finally, the truth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Gracias, CV.

Astro Joe

October 10th, 2012
2:50 pm

Funny how some guys always have to look at things from a negative light. I personally doubt that LD was personally investigating if Ivan was staying physically fit. It is doubtful that LD was flying across the country checking on all of his returning players to determine if they were working out. My guess, LD was trying to extend the relationship he built with a player who likely has struggled with authority-subordinate relationships. Kind of like the way he struggled with a mundane “rookie treatment” by some of the vets last season. T-E-A-M… or go find a league in West Tibet to play ball.


October 10th, 2012
2:50 pm

Sounds like some BULLSPIT to get sent home for, although I’m guessing there was more to it.


October 10th, 2012
2:54 pm

In my humble “avis” (fr), we have three solid [5`s].
Al, Zaza, and Ivan.
What we do not have is a *long rangy shot-blkr.

No – I do not feel as if KBenson can be a solid NBA plyr;
though he does fit my above description. *(LRSB)


October 10th, 2012
2:56 pm

-probably McGrady- ?


October 10th, 2012
3:06 pm

I like him. He brings toughness, energy, and hustle….things our team tends to lack at times. He has a good opportunity to get minutes with the way this roster is set up, I hope he seizes the moment.


October 10th, 2012
3:31 pm

Lol Ivan aient no punk …..I wouldnt have moved for Marvin either- Fuug Outta here…

Grandad -give it up Al is what we think he is -A jumpshooting Big that doesnt like to get his hands dirty in the post. Nice try

Ivan the terrible is our enforcer -every team needs one….

Willie Coyote

October 10th, 2012
3:56 pm

If whoever wanted Ivan to get out of”his” seat, then he should have moved him… How do you get sent home for not putting up with unnecessary BS.


October 10th, 2012
3:58 pm

@ Grandad

If it was McGrady would LD have said anything? lol

Im thinking either Josh,Zaza, or Marvin


October 10th, 2012
3:59 pm

I for one am glad Ivan the Terrible is back and glad that Drew went out there to ‘reach out’ to him. I think it can only help his attitude and contributions to the team.


October 10th, 2012
4:00 pm

i’d like to know who it was that took the risk of losing his own grill to take the seat of ivan. daaam fool and lucky one at that. i wonder if that guy is still amongst us? heh heh, the idea of it being tmac.

second the motion gdad. kind of petty non-sensical rhetoric from someone who has more intelligence than to just puke trash. every player including kobe has weaknesses and are incomplete and can be picked apart.

anyway, he is a likable faux alt fan and multi-dimensional thinker. until his obsessions take over like some of our other friends then it goes haywire. it is lack of pre-frontal control and an over riding cingulate gyrus.

prison mike

October 10th, 2012
4:05 pm

Pay your dues Ivan, we all have to.


October 10th, 2012
4:09 pm

I find it out that James and Anderson are doing the varsity promo event if they are just camp guys and may not make the team. Think it means anything?


October 10th, 2012
4:18 pm

“Grandad -give it up Al is what we think he is -A jumpshooting Big that doesnt like to get his hands dirty in the post. Nice try”

I wonder if his hands got dirty blocking 4 shots vs. the heat? In 21 minutes, no less.

Dept. Of Unintended Irony

October 10th, 2012
4:22 pm

“I wonder if his hands got dirty blocking 4 shots vs. the heat? In 21 minutes, no less.”

So which is it? 21 minutes, or less?


October 10th, 2012
4:26 pm


I don’t think you understood how he meant it. haha


October 10th, 2012
4:44 pm


hoss from bonanza?

ld just do not love him as an x’s and o’s coach and in game adjustments


October 10th, 2012
4:51 pm

Chris Forsberg: Playful KG delivers a monster backside slap to a CSN cameraman on way to interview. Checks on him after and says, “Go ice your ass, bro.” Twitter @ESPNForsberg



October 10th, 2012
4:52 pm

Surprised that more guys do not oppose the rookie treatment especially if the treatment is personally offensive. These are no longer college kids. I wonder if the rookie treatment was in effect for franchise rookies as was with other rookies on a team? I know there are rituals/customs in sports but to be sent home for refusing to give up your seat, wow.

Buddy Grizzard

October 10th, 2012
4:58 pm

“Also, there is an assumption that the shooters will be open from doubling the post, we dont have anyone thats going to draw a double team.” – jlewis

With all your hoops experience you should understand that, regardless of whether the offensive team has a player that demands a double team in the post, the level of respect for the outside shooters is going to affect the degree to which the defensive team cheats toward the lane. If the defensive team has to play tight on the perimeter, the post player has more room to work with. This is true if the post player is Dwight Howard or Al Horford.

Also, thanks for solving the mystery of Ivan’s suspension C-Viv.


October 10th, 2012
5:10 pm

“Customers who purchase a combo meal throughout the dayFriday, at the downtown Varsity location only, will receive a free small frosted orange courtesy of the Hawks.”

Offer some damn tickets you bloody cheap sons if @&%#$!

Is that how you make fans? Or by getting them to watch a game and getting to like it?!

It could be prime seats for an exhibition. For instance. There are acceptable degrees of cheapness which are acceptable. This isn’t one of them.

Rod from College Park

October 10th, 2012
5:12 pm

“Lol Ivan aient no punk …..I wouldnt have moved for Marvin either- Fuug Outta here…”

Would not shock me if that was the case. I would not get up for a guy who I had no respect for on the basketball court either. Especially if he was taking minutes from me.


October 10th, 2012
5:13 pm


Horford is a GOOD finisher in the paint but not a superior one. If he is short on space and crowded he has problems lifting up and hammering it down.

He is very good on the move but from a standstill position he is merely passable.


October 10th, 2012
5:25 pm

I didn’t like how Drew tried to control Ivan especially during the playoff’s against the Celtics..
Let Ivan be the bruising physical force and if he has to mop up somebody ie KG let him..
They punked the Hawks and Ivan should have been there not to out skill KG but if neccessary show him what a REAL tough guy looks like ..


October 10th, 2012
5:27 pm

Ivan gets a legit shot at the [big time] and acting like a [Diva]?

You attitude determines your Altitude Sir…

Its no surprise he was a 28 year old [rookie]..Hmmmm

Hey doctor no sense trying to reason with fanatics sometimes.. Low expectations= expert apologist…

28-47 against the Elites..[with and without your allstar]


Enjoy the game tonight.. Watch a real [5] post up tonight.


October 10th, 2012
5:31 pm

Larry lost game 2 AGAINST THE CELTICS and lost the series because of his grudges against T-Mac and Ivan the Great!

Get this bum outta here Danny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


October 10th, 2012
5:56 pm

The Dynamic Duo [Lou and Devin] featuring Cato [J Smoove] and a host of characters ie 2x Allstar Al will entertain this year for sure!

Go Hawks!!!

Knicks in 5…


October 10th, 2012
6:45 pm

Another guy ano d


October 10th, 2012
6:47 pm

Buddy Grizzard

October 10th, 2012
6:47 pm

“They punked the Hawks and Ivan should have been there not to out skill KG but if neccessary show him what a REAL tough guy looks like.”

Don’t make me bring back Las Vegas Larry.


October 10th, 2012
6:52 pm

All-tough Team:

Rondo, DeShawn, Ivan, Reggie Evans and who to play C?


October 10th, 2012
7:15 pm

Ivan and Zaza are the only tough guys on this soft team!
Can Anyone tell where I can watch tonights game ?


October 10th, 2012
7:17 pm

I wonder what would happen if KG tried to do the following in the 2012 playoffs to Ivan Johnson aka “Hawks’ Deebo”:



October 10th, 2012
7:19 pm

^should have been: “…what would’ve happened if KG had tried…”


October 10th, 2012
7:25 pm


October 10th, 2012
7:33 pm

LD’s horrible rotation management lost that series against Boston. Very little Ivan, almost no T-Mac (even when he was hot those 1 or 2 times). That guy has an edge very few play with today. I think Horford needs to spend some time with Ivan…get back to hustling and banging down low.

Ivan is pretty much a classic example of an undersized guy who plays bigger than he is. Hopefully some of his work ethic rubs off not just on our bigs, but the whole team.


October 10th, 2012
7:34 pm

Bjerry, the Big Apple basketball community must be beside themselves gearing up to watch the NY Knicks and the NY Nets compete with a load of talent on both teams?

US GEOGRAPHY101: Brooklyn is the largest of 5 boroughs in the City of New York..

BTW Bjerry, I do not [hate] Al Horford, heck I do not even know the guy..

I believe his game is terribly overrated and does not garner the Allstar title as he will prove once again come playoffs…

That is all…

Manny Pacquiáo

October 10th, 2012
7:35 pm

Horford ay isang gay bading na weakens ang Hawks isang team. dapat naming makakuha ng mapupuksa ng na mga f uckers ina bilang mabilis munti maaari!


October 10th, 2012
7:40 pm

LOL @ people thinking it was Marvin who wouldn’t get up for Ivan. Who is the only person on the team that Ivan has had some words with?

Josh Smith.

Just call it like it is people.

If it was Marvin or McGrady or JJ or any of the scrub bench players formerly on the team, I’m sure C-Viv would’ve told us who it was.

If it’s someone who is currently on the team, I understand why he wants to keep that under wraps.

Rod from College Park

October 10th, 2012
7:44 pm

“LOL @ people thinking it was Marvin who wouldn’t get up for Ivan. Who is the only person on the team that Ivan has had some words with?

Josh Smith.

Just call it like it is people.”

Wrong again as usual. Some things never change.


October 10th, 2012
7:55 pm

Bjerry put Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Ryan Anderson, Brandon Bass, KG, Joakim Noah, Big Baby, D12, Ivan the Great, Taj Gibson on your boy Allstar Al and its game, set, and match…

Its on lock down. The End.

Astro Joe

October 10th, 2012
7:58 pm

northcyde, he won’t tell you why you’re wrong… I assumed the same, easy to call out the player if they are gone… less likely to call him out if he is still here.

Bottom line, Ivan was wrong. He was too busy thinking about Ivan and he wasn’t thinking about the team. His teammates were willing to treat him like a 1st round draft pick and he acted like a scrub who came into the league by the skin of his teeth. Hopefully, that is what he realized over the summer.

Anyone know if the game tonight is being streamed somewhere?


October 10th, 2012
8:08 pm

Bjerry one of the most respected bloggers[Big Ray] who at one point had his own blog on the AJC stated last night that AllStar Al had [ZERO] postgame.. Hmmmmm

Would you call him a [hater] too for stating an obvious fact that seems elude the [Al Horford AllStar Fan Club]….



October 10th, 2012
8:09 pm

According to ESPN, starting lineup tonight is Harris, Morrow, Korver, Smith and Horford. So far, I have not like the way JT0 is being treated. So far it is looking like he is not going to start.

Even in the scrimmages, JT0 is not teaming with Al or Josh. If LD demotes JT0, I think it is just plain stupid. Again, many people are high on Harris, but last year his nimbers were worse than JT0. It was also his first opportunity to start.


October 10th, 2012
8:10 pm

Slimjr, who would you rather have than Al? – that is realistically available? Are you one of the people who think ZaZa should start?


October 10th, 2012
8:13 pm

Great job of the marketing dept to get the Hawks faces in the community. Those type of events will go a long way. Even though the Hawks have been pretty successful, most people in Atlanta do not recognize them.