Hawks free-agent guard Joe Johnson signed a 6-year, $123.7 million contract on Thursday to remain here in Atlanta and
drain the team's finances compete for a championship.
A significant pay raise for Johnson, whose previous contract paid him $70 million over his first five years in the ATL.
No longer strapped for cash, I wanted to ask the Hawks All-Star what he plans to do with the
partially deserved much-needed income and whether or not the confines of his 12,619-sq. foot shack have become too cramped to bear.
Unfortunately, I was unable to reach Mr. Johnson, but this is how that conversation might've gone:
(DISCLAIMER: These are actual quotes from Joe Johnson that have been satirically manipulated for your reading pleasure)
Q: First of all, congratulations. It must feel great to be paid more money than Dwyane Wade—a Finals MVP—and LeBron James—a two-time league MVP—right?
JJ: "It mean[s] a lot to know (the Hawks) have
got the confidence in to rely on me to try to lead this team in the right direction and over the hump keep the Atlanta fans somewhat interested in our team. I think we can definitely get over the hump do exactly what we did last year by getting embarrased in front of a national audience. Knowing they have my back want to throw money at me like that makes me want to work party even harder. I’m sure I won’t let them down be settling for just two bottles of Patron anymore."
Q: Spoken like a true champion, Joe. What was the process of negotiating with Hawks GM Rick Sund and new head coach Larry Drew like?
JJ: "We kind of sat and talked. They pretty much said how they felt about me coming back to the team and how much they
wanted me back didn't really want to but had to bring me back. They said they are going to do whatever possible to improve the team maintain the same team from last year. They have been doing that since Day One we got dominated by the Magic in the second round of the playoffs. You can’t argue with that. . . . It was really a brief meeting. We didn’t really have to sit and talk long. I understood where they were coming from, and that was that I had to go pick up my custom diamond-soled, baby seal-skinned shoes before Barney's closed.”
Q: Well, we've all been there. Now, surely you're aware that the pressure that accompanies the signing of a 'max-contract' is immense. Are you prepared to deal with that pressure?
JJ: "I know it’s going to come. I can’t really worry about that. I have to
control the things I can control make sure that check clears and go and compete play ball night-in and night-out and have fun with it. At the same time, this is definitely my job the easiest thing in the world: I get paid to play basketball. I am up for the challenge two hours of balling followed by a few more out on the town."
Q: I hear that. There are a lot of fans in Atlanta who are still mad about the comments you made during the playoffs about not caring whether or not they show up, what would you say to those fans?
JJ: "There is nothing I can do about it now. I just look forward to
the season and getting out there and playing getting my rims paid for and adding a couple zeroes to my bank account. This is my job; this is what I do. I am going to come out and try to have fun and hopefully change their minds they'll keep paying to watch me underperform.”
Q: Speaking of your contract, there's been a lot of criticism over how much money you're making and some people are saying that you're being overpaid. Are you aware of any of that conversation?
JJ: "Naw. Uh-uh." (actual answer to similar question)
Q: Well then I guess you're immune to the pressures of living up to your gaudy contract?
JJ: "I don’t feel no pressure at all [meaning I do because I 'DON'T feel NO pressure']. All I have got to do is keep
playing my game stacking Benjamins...I can't wait to get that $24-million present for my 35th birthday.”
Yes, under the current terms of the 6-year deal, Johnson will be paid exponentially and will therefore be owed more than $24 million once he hits the big 3-5.
At least Joe's financial portfolio improved yesterday. As far as the improvement of the team, that's yet to be determined.
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