ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — As someone who considers himself one of the world’s biggest Atlanta Hawks fans, I spent the better part of the last seven NBA season watching Joe Johnson ply his trade for my Hawks. It wasn’t always highlight central — despite him being 6-7, I’m not sure I ever recall seeing Joe dunk on anyone — but it was incredibly effective and consistent. (Joe played at least 2,500 minutes every season he was with the Hawks but one, and that season was when he missed time with a bum shoulder.) I always appreciated Joe’s professionalism, even if the Hawks never were able to get past the second round of the Playoffs before they traded Joe to Brooklyn.
NBA commissioner David Stern prides himself on the runaway globalism of the NBA—of the League’s vast worldwide reach and appeal. And if you need yet another example of this, check out this remarkable story from Sporting Life Arkansas, which details the life of the Chinese Joe Johnson Fan Club.
Roughly 500 members strong, the Chinese Joe Johnson Fan Club was founded by a man who calls himself Yonsan Johnson (though his birth name was Zhu Yan-Qing) in honor of Joe. Inspired by a random magazine cover, Yonsan latched on to Joe and dedicated himself to being Johnson’s biggest fan. He’d never actually seen Joe play, but it didn’t matter, and before long the Chinese Joe Johnson Fan Club was born.
The story goes on from there and contains twists and turns involving game worn jerseys, care packages, twitter exchanges and hundreds of emails. I just wish I’d known about this club when Joe was on the Hawks, when I, a Hawks fan exiled to New York City, was looking for a like-minded community of people pulling for Joe Johnson. I would have loved to have been a member then. Actually, I’d still be open to exploring some sort of honorary membership.
Anyway, read the story. It’s great.