Larry Demetric Johnson Media Player
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Larry Demetric Johnson

Larry Demetric Johnson (born March 14, 1969 in Tyler, Texas) is a retired American basketball player who spent his professional career in the National Basketball Association (NBA) with the Charlotte Hornets and New York Knicks. He was listed as a 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) forward.

College career

After being named as a McDonald's High School All-American Team member in 1987, Johnson began his collegiate career at Odessa College in Texas. He played in the 1987-88 & 1988–89 seasons, won the National Junior College Athletic Association Player Of The Year award both years he played, and was so highly touted coming out of Odessa, some reports said that Johnson would've been a 1st-round NBA draft selection - some even suggested a lottery selection - if he'd declared for early entry. Johnson eventually transferred to the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV) to play under head coach Jerry Tarkanian and his Runnin' Rebels. Alongside future NBA players Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony, Johnson faced Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils, who featured Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, and Alaa Abdelnaby, in the title game of the 1990 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. UNLV went on to win the contest by a score of 103–73, with Johnson contributing 22 points and 11 rebounds. The Running Rebels set simultaneous NCAA records for the largest margin of victory and highest score in an NCAA Tournament championship game.

In a post-season mired by charges of recruiting violations and misconduct by UNLV, an agreement was reached between the university and the NCAA to allow for the defense of their title for the 1990–91 season, which would be followed by a suspension from post-season play the following season. Johnson and the Runnin' Rebels responded with a perfect regular season record of 27–0, with an average scoring margin of 26.7 points per game; this total included a 112–105 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks, ranked second in the country at the time.

In the 1991 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, UNLV won the West Regional Tournament only to be upset by eventual champion Duke in the Final Four. Johnson was named a First Team All-American twice, and won the Big West Conference Player of the Year and tournament Most Valuable Player awards in 1990 and 1991. He also won the prestigious John R. Wooden Award and was named Naismith College Player of the Year in 1991. To this day, Johnson is ranked 12th in career scoring and 7th in rebounding at UNLV despite playing only two seasons. He also holds the record for single-season and career field goal percentage. In 2002, Johnson and teammates Augmon and Anthony were inducted into the UNLV Athletic Hall of Fame along with the 1990–91 UNLV men's basketball team. To date they are the only UNLV team to make back-to-back Final Four appearances.

Professional career

Charlotte Hornets

Johnson was selected first overall in the 1991 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets, and won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in his first season. He also competed in the 1992 Slam Dunk Contest at the NBA All-Star Weekend in Orlando, finishing second to Cedric Ceballos of the Phoenix Suns.

In 1993, Johnson was voted to start in that year's All-Star Game, making him the first Hornet in franchise history to receive that honor; he enjoyed his best statistical season with averages of 22.1 points per game and 10.5 rebounds per game in 82 games, which earned him All-NBA second team honors. Along with Alonzo Mourning, Muggsy Bogues and Rex Chapman, Johnson played with the Hornets at the height of their popularity in the early and mid-1990s. During this time, Johnson, who went by his initialism "LJ" and the nickname "Grandmama" (because of a popular Converse commercial), was featured on the cover of the premiere issue of SLAM Magazine.

In October 1993, Johnson signed what was at the time the most lucrative contract in NBA history, a 12-year, $84 million deal with the Hornets. However, he missed 31 games after spraining his back on December 27, 1993 in a game against the Detroit Pistons. During the summer he played for the U.S. national team (nicknamed Dream Team II) in the 1994 FIBA World Championship, winning the gold medal.

Johnson had entered the league as an explosive power forward, averaging over 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. However, after the injury to his back, Johnson was forced to develop an all-around game with an improved outside shot. In the 1994–95 season, he made 81 three-pointers, nearly 60 more than in his first three years combined, and was selected to the 1995 NBA All-Star Game.

Friction between Johnson and Mourning forced the organization to make a change, and the Hornets traded Mourning to the Miami Heat for Glen Rice and Matt Geiger. A year later, however, Johnson himself was traded to the New York Knicks for Anthony Mason and Brad Lohaus.

New York Knicks

Johnson averaged 12.8 points, a career-low, in his first season as a Knick, and although he would never return to his former All-Star form, he was a key member of the Knicks' 1999 Eastern Conference championship team.

During Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, he was involved in a critical play in which he was fouled by Antonio Davis of the Indiana Pacers. Standing outside the three-point line with 11.9 seconds left, Johnson held the ball, and then began to dribble. He leaned into defender Davis before jumping up. The referee called the foul about a half-second before Johnson released the ball, but it was counted as a continuation shooting foul. The three-point basket and the ensuing free throw gave the Knicks a 92–91 victory.

During the 1999 NBA Finals, Johnson characterized the Knicks as a band of "rebellious slaves." Bill Walton later called Johnson and his performance a "disgrace." When Johnson was asked about the play of San Antonio Spurs point guard Avery Johnson in Game 4, Johnson again shifted the topic to slavery: "Ave, man, we're from the same plantation. You tell Bill Walton that. We from Massa Johnson's plantation." He went on to say, "Here's the NBA, full of blacks, great opportunities, they made beautiful strides. But what's the sense of that ... when I go back to my neighborhood and see the same thing? I'm the only one who came out of my neighborhood. Everybody ended up dead, in jail, on drugs, selling drugs. So I'm supposed to be honored and happy or whatever by my success. Yes, I am. But I can't deny the fact of what has happened to us over years and years and years and we're still at the bottom of the totem pole."

On October 10, 2001, Johnson announced his early retirement from basketball due to chronic back problems that had plagued him for several years, after his point production had decreased for three straight years.

Post-playing career

In July 2007, Johnson expressed interest in making a comeback with the Knicks in some type of "leadership role". On December 21, 2007, Johnson received a bachelor of arts degree in social science studies from UNLV.

Personal life

Johnson has converted to Islam. During the NBA season, he observed Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.

Film and television

In 1993, Johnson appeared on the sitcom Family Matters as his alter ego "Grandmama", who becomes Steve Urkel's teammate in a basketball tournament. Later that year he was a guest on The Late Show with David Letterman. Three years later he appeared as himself in the movies Eddie and Space Jam; in the latter he was one of the NBA stars who lost their talent alongside Bogues, Shawn Bradley, Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing.

Обновлено ( 26.04.2012 20:54 )
 

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