Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
Ivan Johnson didn't make it to the NBA until he was 27 years old, but he's already left an indelible impression upon fans around the Association. We Atlanta Hawks supporters in particular can't help but love him, even if he absolutely terrifies us at the same time.
Trust me, every time Ivan does something crazy out on the hardwood, I immediately get texts and Facebook messages that just say, "IVANNNNNNN."*
So, what took Johnson so long to make it to the sport's highest level?
Well the answer is quite simple. He was too busy playing college ball at Los Angeles Southwest Junior College, Cisco Junior College, Cal State San Bernardino and Oregon. Needless to say, he never made it to the Final Four.
Anger management issues ended his career with the Ducks, but Ivan Johnson didn't end his career with anger management issues.
He was banned for life from playing basketball in South Korea because of his temper. He bounced around a few different countries, as well as the D-League and, somehow, found the time and money to put a diamond grill in his mouth before managing to land in Atlanta.
During his long journey to stardom—please don't tell me Ivan isn't a star, because I'll put my fingers in my ears and refuse to listen to you—Johnson didn't exactly familiarize himself with other NBA stars.
Here's an incredible quote provided to us by Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution after a Hawks win in January over the Minnesota Timberwolves:
My thing is, I don’t really watch basketball so I don’t know who anybody is...So when I match up against them, they are a regular player. I know the major players like LeBron [James], Kobe [Bryant], [Dwyane] Wade but all the extra ones I don’t know. Even if I did know them, I’m not going to be afraid. We are playing basketball.
That's right. Ivan is only familiar with three players in the NBA. No one else.
Just as Larry Drew said later in that same article, I'm very intrigued by this guy.
*The number of "Ns" vary, depending on who's sending the text or message.