How the Dallas Mavericks saved Asia from Ivan Johnson

As per ESPN New York,

The pay in China, Ivan Johnson said, is great. It’s everything else that’s a problem. “The food. They don’t cook it all the way through,” Johnson said Wednesday after auditioning for the Brooklyn Nets at their free-agent minicamp. “The rooms smell like [a] sewer. There’s a lot of stuff you gotta deal with over there. I dealt with it, though. I had to.” Johnson’s advice for free agents looking to go overseas? “If you’re in it just for the money, go to China,” he said. “If you want to fulfill your dreams, keep grinding. Keep grinding and you’ll get there.”

The Dallas Mavericks pretty much closed the chapter on Ivan Johnson’s wild Asian basketball career after signing him to a non-guaranteed contract. This means Johnson will have to convince the squad during training camp that he belongs in the NBA. As of right now, Johnson is relieved that he won’t have to go back to Asia. 2f262fd829861cfdd690ee3c5b677772d831907f It all started in 2008 when Johnson signed a contract with the Changwon LG Sakers of the Korean Basketball League (KBL). Apparently he liked it (or the money) enough to go back a second season when in 2009 he signed a contract with the Jeonju KCC Eggis of the KBL. This is where is started to get sour. During the 2009-2010 KBL finals, late in the game, Johnson flipped off the referees and some fans resulting in a lifetime ban from the league (it was actually the third time he flipped the bird during a game during that year). 2014-07-29_16-17-39 Tired of Asia, Johnson decided to go back to the Americas where he would play in the NBA D-League and also spend some time in the Puerto Rico league. But those two leagues don’t pay half as much as what the Asian leagues pay. So Johnson found himself back in Asia. This time it was the Chinese Basketball League where he would play for the Qingdao DoubleStar Eagles (the team that Tracy McGrady would eventually play for). And after a strong season there, Johnson landed a spot on the Atlanta Hawks as they made a push for the playoffs. Johnson did quite well with the Hawks despite being fined $25,000 by the NBA for, well, you guessed it… he flipped off some Boston Celtics fans after being eliminated from the playoffs. middle-finger With all that aside, the Hawks signed Johnson for the 2012-2013 season. After a year in the NBA, Johnson followed the cash and went back to China. He played half the season with the Zhejiang Golden Bulls before being sent back to America for numerous altercations with the organization. This summer, Johnson was kicked out of an NBA summer league game (and allegedly punched a mop) where he played for the Dallas Mavericks, the same team that signed him to a training camp contract.

Johnson’s legacy in Asia remains; the American bad boy.

Nick Bedard (@bedardnick) is the editor-in-chief of

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