- Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 February 2013 17:16
- Published on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 00:16
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Recently, Chris Johnson’s dream of a lengthy stay in the NBA may have been realized after signing a contract for the remainder of the season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Prior to the Timberwolves agreement to keep Johnson for the rest of the season, he and fellow Timberwolves teammate, Mickael Gelabale were signed to ten-day contracts. Initially, the Timberwolves were stricken with injuries, which created two roster positions. Gelabale’s contract was also extended for the rest the season. According to Timberwolves president of basketball operations David Kahn, both players exceeded the team’s expectations, and deserved to play.
During the same day of Johnson’s reentry into the NBA, he wasted no time in his Timberwolves debut by helping his team to a 92-79 win, after scoring 15 points.
Thus far, Johnson has made the most of his new home in Minnesota. He seems to be a man on a mission; he has shot 73.3% from the field, while averaging 9.3 points, and four rebounds in the last seven games. The former Colonial Beach Drifter star initially signed with the Timberwolves on Jan. 19, following a 14-game stay with NBA D-league Santa Cruz, where he averaged 10.9 points, and 6.1 rebounds.
The 6-foot-11 Westmoreland County native, LSU graduate and high school basketball (Washington & Lee, Colonial Beach) basketball star’s road to the NBA began with a short stint with the Portland Trailblazers two years ago. After Trailblazer center Marcus Camby underwent knee surgery, a roster opening became an opportunity for Johnson.
Before playing in Portland, he was selected by the Dakota Wizards as the ninth overall pick in the National Basketball Developmental League Draft. He averaged 17.2 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks over 27 games during the 2011 season.
Johnson’s roots are deeply embedded in Westmoreland County. Throughout his athletic career, he has maintained a close relationship with his former high school basketball coach, Steve Swope. “Chris works hard every day to keep himself a consummate professional,” Swope said. “He is a number one first class model citizen, who is also a great kid off the court. I have fond memories of him coming over to the house, and being a tremendous person.”
Collegiately, Johnson finished his senior year at LSU averaging 7.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.7 blocks.
Like many professional basketball players, Johnson had to endure the rigors of playing in summer league (Orlando Majic, Philadelphia 76ers) professional basketball—where he did not make the final cut.
Refusing to throw in the towel, he pursued his professional basketball career overseas with Turkish and Polish professional basketball teams. After leaving Europe, Johnson was invited to the Boston Celtics training camp, where he was soon released. While the Boston experience did not result in a job, Johnson forged ahead, and continued to train for his moment in the sun. “He has some God-gifted physical attributes—Chris has taken his 6’11” frame and made the most out of it in the game of basketball,” Swope said.