The acquisition of Joe Johnson this offseason both shocked and exhilarated Jazz fans all at the same time. Although he’s certainly past his prime, he’s still a renowned player in this league and for a seven-time All-Star of his level of acclaim to come play for the Jazz was a pleasant surprise.
He was a consummate pro all season long and a significant piece to Utah’s success, especially in their first-round playoff series win over the Los Angeles Clippers. And JJ’s end of season interview only solidified my respect for him. He raved about how proud he was of this young Jazz team and sounded thrilled in every way with his decision to come play in Utah and showed excitement for this team’s future and the role he will play in it.
Johnson also spoke about how much he still loves playing the game of basketball and it made me realize even more how beneficial it is for the younger players to have an experienced and talented guy like him on the team. He alluded several times to the youth of the Jazz and it’s clear that Johnson knows how much of an impact he can have as a mentor.
Finally, he spoke about the team’s unity and seemed very confident about the chances of Utah’s high profile free agents (obviously Gordon Hayward and George Hill) having a desire to come back next season. Joe Johnson gave this Jazz team a huge lift and is the kind of teammate that any player should want to play with. He seemed beyond optimistic about Utah’s future and hopefully that will play a large role in convincing Hayward to stay.