Johnson celebrates 'surreal' Celtics return

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  • Boston Celtics
    Boston Celtics
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  • Joe Johnson
    Joe Johnson
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Joe Johnson celebrated his return to the NBA in style on Wednesday, marking a two-minute appearance with the final two points of the game as the Boston Celtics beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 111-101.

Johnson, a seven-time All-Star, was signed up by the Celtics on Wednesday on a 10-day contract, after the league granted the team a hardship waiver due to the rising amount of COVID-19 cases across the competition.

The 40-year-old has now played in 1,277 career NBA games over what is now an 18-season career, though he had last featured for the Houston Rockets in 2018.

Having joined the Celtics in the 2001 Draft as the 10th overall pick, he was let go after his rookie season, but still enjoyed a stellar career.

Across 17 seasons from 2001 to 2018, Johnson averaged 16.0 points per game, 4.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists.

He also recorded five successive campaigns of averaging over 20.0 points per game, during a seven-season stint with the Atlanta Hawks.

When he came on for his cameo against the Cavaliers, Johnson became the second-oldest player currently in the NBA, behind Udonis Haslem of the Miami Heat.

Johnson was dubbed "Iso Joe" due to his prowess in one-v-one situations throughout his career, and the veteran showed that skill had not gone away as he outjumped Justin Anderson to add the final two points onto Boston's score on Wednesday.

"It's amazing to be back here 20 years later," Johnson, who is the only current NBA player to have played against the legendary Michael Jordan, told reporters.

"It's still surreal to me. To come into the game and be somewhat effective, that's fun.

"At my age you try to relish every moment, enjoy the process and live in the moment. That's kind of what I'm doing right now, living in the moment and it's fun."

Johnson knows, however, that he has been given an unlikely opportunity.

"I wouldn't say give up, but I didn't have high hopes," Johnson added.

"My son's 14, so he keeps me in the gym. We work and work and work, and I always talk to him [and say], "just work". Even when you can't see what's next, you just gotta continue to work."

Johnson was only notified of the possible deal with the Celtics on Tuesday, and shortly after was on a flight to Boston.

"It was a no-brainer for me," he said. "I'm a guy who really takes care of his body. I'm in pretty good shape. So I felt like I was ready to take on that challenge.

"So [my agent] asked me what I thought, and we just kept moving. I'm ready for whatever comes my way."

"He's still got a lot in the tank if you ask me," said Jaylen Brown, who scored a team-leading 34 points for Boston.

"I've watched him in the Big3, I've watched him before that, and I watched him growing up and he still looks like he's got something left in the tank so I'm happy to have him on board, to hear his voice, his advice. I think it's great."

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