With the Charlotte Bobcats announcing that they’ll be switching over to being the Charlotte Hornets, I was pretty excited about it.
One of my all-time favorite players, Larry Johnson, played for the Hornets back in the early 90’s and that Hornet team with Johnson, Alonzo Mourning, and Mugsy Bouges was one of the most fun to watch of the time.
But LJ was my guy. There were two college teams that shaped me as a player and those were the 1989-91 UNLV teams and The Fab Five from Michigan. If you saw those teams play, you instantly wanted to play just like them. I stayed up late one night to watch UNLV play Long Beach St. and LJ was out there manhandling kids.
A lot of people forget how good LJ was. The #1 pick in the 1991 draft, Johnson was an absolute beast on the court until back injuries and that dumbass “L” sign he did while with the Kinicks derailed his career
How good was Johnson? He was a McDonald’s All-American. Test scores werent right so he went the JUCO route and became the 1st player EVER to be named National JUCO Player of the Year twice. He was a 2x 1st-Team All-American at UNLV, where he won a national championship and was a Greg Anthony (bogus) foul out away from winning back-to-back titles and an undefeated season.
Once he came into the league, his signature part down the middle of his head and that gold toothed smile endeared him to fans.
LJ and Grandmama became a household name and he went on to win the rookie of the year. He followed that up by being an all-star starter and was a 2nd team all-nba selection. Charlotte chose to sign him to a 12-year $84 million dollar deal before 93-94 season. Sounds like crap now, but in 1993, that was the richest contract in NBA history.
Then in December of that season, Johnson hurt his back and missed over 30 games. He was never the same player after that. His explosiveness gone, LJ had to adapt and he developed into a pretty good 3-point shooter. But that guy who would dunk on anybody and flash that gold tooth was gone.
And before I forget, LJ was involved in one of the funniest fights in basketball history. Yeah we know about him and Zo, but did you know about UNLV vs Arkansas? LJ vs Todd Day? Throwback Thursday….enjoy!
C’mon Todd Day….you ain’t want none!
– N.D. Face