Boston Celtics forward Amir Johnson was a little surprised by the reaction Air Canada Centre gave him before, during and after Wednesday night’s game. These are the same people who booed Vince Carter and Chris Bosh for years and years and years.
“It’s pretty unique, just to see the fans have a player leave. Sometimes they don’t show retired players and have a tribute like that. It was awesome, man,” Johnson said after the Celtics lost to his former team, 115-109. “I didn’t know what to expect but it was definitely awesome. The fans have been great to me over the years.” And he’s witnessed, first-hand, what can happen to those who don’t end up on the crowd’s good side. “Yeah, I have (seen players get booed upon their return),” said Johnson, who had two points and four rebounds in 24 minutes. “Especially some guys who have been here for years, so to have the appreciation of the fans is really cool.”
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In his first season with the Celtics, Johnson is averaging 8.1 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Those numbers don’t look great, but his advanced stats are all in line with his career average, and numbers don’t tell the story on defense.
They don’t illuminate how Johnson opens up his teammates by setting sturdy, thankless screens 20 feet from the basket.
But Raptors fans who watched him grow up learned to love his hustle and energy; the subtle ways he contributes and helps his team win.
Johnson’s a special player, but you won’t learn that by looking at a box score.