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Joe Johnson Makes Dramatic Return to the NBA at Age 40

40-year-old Joe Johnson, who made a dramatic NBA return just before Christmas with the Boston Celtics. Johnson’s 19-year, 305-day gap between stints with the Cs broke an NBA record for the longest gap in NBA history.

Ankit Kanaujia
Last updated: 31.12.2021
Joe Johnson Makes Dramatic Return to the NBA at Age 40

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Like the rest of the world, the NBA has been lurched into chaos by the Omicron variant. Players entering health and safety protocols has dominated the headlines, but it has also provided opportunity for veterans and youngsters alike. One player to benefit from the circumstances was 40-year-old Joe Johnson, who made a dramatic NBA return just before Christmas with the Boston Celtics.

No one expected to see Johnson in the best sports bets today when the 2021-22 season began. Johnson was closer to Hall of Fame eligibility than his last NBA outing after being waived by the Detroit Pistons in October 2019.

Joe Johnson Returns to the Celtics

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Johnson made a bucket in just under two minutes of play against the Cavaliers on December, 22nd. Drafted by the Celtics in 2001, Johnson’s 19-year, 305-day gap between stints with the Cs broke an NBA record for the longest gap in NBA history.

Boston took Johnson 10th overall in 2001 in a class led off by Kwame Brown at first overall. Tyson Chandler and Pau Gasol went second and third, while Johnson was taken ahead of Zach Randolph, Tony Parker and Gilbert Arenas.

Johnson didn’t last long in his first Boston spell, however, as he was traded to the Suns in February 2002 in a package that landed the Celtics Tony Delk and Rodney Rogers.

He spent three-and-a-half years in Arizona before again being traded. Ending up on the Hawks, Johnson hit his stride in the NBA, becoming a 20-point per game scorer and earning six straight All-Star selections.

Becoming a journeyman in his thirties, Johnson played for Brooklyn, Miami, Utah and Houston with his final game coming in 2017-18.

Among many experienced players getting another chance to run onto an NBA court, Johnson is arguably the most beloved. Iso Joe remains a pure scorer, and his love for the game has not faded. He shone in the Big3 and showcased his smooth scoring for the Overseas Elite in 2020.

What Next For Johnson

The excitement on social media as Johnson hit his only field goal attempt against the Cavaliers has not reappeared. Ime Udoka hasn’t given the veteran any minutes in Boston’s next two games despite Jayson Tatum entering health and safety protocols.

NBA fans desperate to see more of Big Shot Joe probably need to hope for a blowout. Johnson is at the end of the bench, and it’s unclear at this point if Boston will sign him to a second 10-day contract. A one-sided game in either direction could see the seven-time All-Star land some minutes.

With the increasing case numbers across America, Boston isn’t Johnson’s only chance for more NBA action. The record for the most players used in an NBA season has already been broken, and we’re not even halfway through yet.

Plenty of other NBA teams are bound to need more depth later in the season. Johnson could pick up a few more 10-day contracts in 2022, and hopefully land a bigger role as a bench scorer somewhere.

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