Johnson, taking a nap at the time of the call, assumed there must have been some sort of interest from a European team or an opportunity to make some more money after the D-League season, and begrudgingly answered his phone.
Much to Johnson’s surprise, Ames told him the Lakers wanted to sign him for the remainder of the playoffs, and somewhat facetiously asked Johnson if he were interested.
“I was like, ‘Heck yeah!’,” said Johnson. “We started laughing, and he told me I had to get outta there pretty quick. I called my mom right away … she and my dad have been extremely supportive, and they were both just very thankful.”
A few hours later, there was Johnson, waiting for the rest of the Lakers on the team plane destined for Sacramento.
Johnson says he understands the gravity of the situation he’s entering, with Phil Jackson going for his fourth three-peat, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher seeking title No. 6 and so on. But he said his sole focus is to find a way to contribute, and not think too much about history.
“I’m extremely confident in what I can bring to the table,” he said. “For me to go to camp with the Lakers and come back now, it’s just perfect timing.”
For the past four seasons, Johnson has been one of the best players in the D-League, this season ranking second league-wide in scoring at 25.5 points per game, plus 4.5 assists in 35.9 minutes. For his D-League career, he has averaged 20.7 points, 4.7 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 36.0 minutes.
A 6-5 guard out of Jackson State, Johnson spent the preseason with the Lakers, playing well in pockets before being waived on October 21. He signed two 10-day contracts with Toronto, playing in seven games and averaging 4.0 points, 1.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 11.6 minutes.
Kobe’s For Free!
While we talked, Johnson was lacing up a new pair of Kobe Bryant VI’s, much to his delight. You see, after going through the few pairs he kept from the Raptors, Johnson had to buy his own Kobe’s to use while playing for the Jam. Now, he’s got all the Kobe’s he can handle.