Joe Johnson Leads Triplets over Killer 3s to Win 2019 BIG3 League Championship

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 1, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 01: Joe Johnson #1 of the Triplets drives past Donte Greene #20 of Killer 3s during the BIG3 Championship at Staples Center on September 01, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/BIG3 via Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Joe Johnson spent 17 seasons in the NBA and never won a ring.

It took him exactly one to bring home his first BIG3 championship.

Johnson scored 28 points and Jamario Moon and Alan Anderson each added 11, as the league MVP carried the Triplets to a 50-39 win over the Killer 3s in Sunday's BIG3 title game.

It was another brilliant performance for Johnson, who has established himself as the best player in BIG3 history while pushing the Triplets to the top of the three-on-three league in their first season. The Triplets finished the season 7-0 in games in which Johnson scored at least 20 points; he was their leading scorer for every game and led all BIG3 players in scoring.

The Triplets scored the final nine points of the game after the Killer 3s got within two at 41-39. 

The result of Johnson's storybook season could be an NBA return. Johnson worked out with the Philadelphia 76ers last week and has scheduled workouts with the Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks and Denver Nuggets. The seven-time All-Star last played for the Houston Rockets in 2018, an experience that left him sour and wanting to rewrite his final NBA chapter.

"I am hopeful to get back, but I did not get in the BIG3 to get back to the 'league,'" Johnson told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. "I had a great career. I enjoyed the process. The only thing that keeps the NBA fire in the belly is how it ended in Houston. That just does not sit well with me. So if an opportunity comes along and I feel that it is worth it, yeah, I take that chance."

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Johnson added that he is unsure whether he'll return to the BIG3 for the 2020 season.

If Johnson's BIG3 journey is over, he'll have left an indelible mark that shines a bright spot on the league in its third season. The BIG3 sees itself as a standalone from the NBA, but Johnson garnering interest proves there is a way back for players who are looking to use it as a steppingstone. That could attract even more high-profile names to join the league, raising its profile and quality of play.

Stephen Jackson scored 19 points for the Killer 3s, who are themselves a BIG3 success story. The Jackson-led group finished last in the BIG3 standings during the league's inaugural season, missed the playoffs in 2018 and ascended all the way to the championship game this year. They have to be considered among the early favorites in 2020, presuming most of the roster returns.