It’s been kind of a drag watching the NBA for the past two weeks. In the last nine days, seven games have been cancelled. For the teams that have been able to play some have been forced to get through games with less than optimal lineups. The Brooklyn Nets haven’t played since Saturday and in that game they started Kessler Edwards, Cameron Thomas, Blake Griffin, Patty Mills, and David Duke Jr. (shocking name to read, I know, but I assure you that this person is a 22-year-old professional basketball player.)
The Boston Celtics found themselves in trouble with their roster for tonight’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Both teams are dealing with COVID outbreaks, and in the Celtics’ last game on Monday, they were down seven players in a 108-103 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
In response, the Celtics have decided to dig in the crates to play an old school jam. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Celtics have signed two-time BIG3 MVP “Iso” Joe Johnson to a 10-day contract. Johnson turned 40 years old in June, and has not played in the NBA since he took the court for five minutes for the Houston Rockets in Game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals.
Johnson joined the BIG3, halfcourt league in 2019 and has been dominant. He’s averaged 20-plus points per game in each of his two seasons, and knocked down the game-winner for the Triplets, coached by Lisa Leslie, in the 2019 championship game.
Iso Joe, back in the NBA. We deserve this. COVID-19 outbreaks came back like a reboot of a television show that no one asked for. We were all excited to be able to gather for the holidays after last year many of us finally learned what the lonely do at Christmas time. Now we’re all scrambling for COVID tests and fearing overseas travel as the Omicron variant has spread throughout the world.
However, in all the panic and fear an old friend has made a surprise appearance. Seeing Johnson back in the NBA is like going to the grocery store for your parents and trying to avoid anyone you might know, and then in the alcohol aisle there’s an old classmate with whom you would actually like to have a conversation.
If you’re not at least mildly excited at the thought of Iso Joe jab stepping and pump faking for the first time on an NBA court in three years, either you have some deep-seated resentment for the Atlanta Hawks of the early 2010s that you need to seek therapy about, or the state of the world in 2021 has robbed you of your ability to appreciate anything.
One of the most fun parts of the NBA is fun players with real nicknames who never won in a major way. Iso Joe, Fat Lever, Sleepy Floyd, Tractor Traylor, Muggsy Bogues, The Plastic Man — no sports fan should be able get through that list without smiling.
For a couple of weeks we get one of those guys back. Iso Joe, making his NBA return for the team that drafted him and traded him before he ever played a game. If he makes a game-winning three during the Celtics’ Christmas Day game against the Milwaukee Bucks, that’s enough positivity to get me through until NFL Championship Game weekend.
Unfortunately, this will delay Johnson’s Hall of Fame eligibility but this is an emergency situation, we need professional basketball players like they needed pilots at the end of Independence Day. So thank you, Iso Joe, for your sacrifice and your service in this time of crisis, and let us all be Celtics fans for the next 10 days.