Last week, I got the opportunity to attend Joe Johnson’s “Shop with a Jock” event in downtown Brooklyn. Fifty underprivileged children from the Brooklyn area were all given $100 gift cards to shop at Target with Joe Johnson and friends. During the holiday season it was great to see how excited the kids were, not only to meet one of their favorite local NBA players but to also get something for Christmas. A lot of people take the holiday season for granted, so it was great to see the kids enjoying themselves in the store and having a good time.
During the event, I got the opportunity to catch up with Joe for a few minutes to talk about his event, the Jordan XX8s and his rivalry with the Knicks, among a few other things.
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Dime: Tell me about what’s going on with your charity event.
Joe Johnson: It’s my shop with a jock event. Basically, I’m just getting a chance to come out and hang out with the youth. The kids get a chance to shop with me, and I basically just want to entertain them and show them a great time for the night. It’s just a great way to bring the kids a little holiday cheer before Christmas day comes. It’s always a pleasure for me to put a smile on some kids faces, that’s what it’s all about.
Dime: You do this event every year?
JJ: Yeah we’ve done it in Atlanta the past couple years, I always do it back home in Arkansas and as long as I’m here in Brooklyn I’ll continue to do it every holiday season.
Dime: Has it been difficult adjusting to the speed of New York City coming from Atlanta?
JJ: It’s definitely been different man I won’t lie. I’m from the south, so coming to New York and living here, I never imagined it. It’s been really fast paced but I’ve been enjoying it, it’s been a great experience for me so far and I love it out here. The community is really welcoming and it’s great to be a part of it all.
Dime: What do you miss most about being in Atlanta?
JJ: I can’t really say I miss much other than my family being down south.
Dime: What do you like most about being in Brooklyn?
JJ: One thing I can tell you about Brooklyn, the atmosphere as far as sports, it’s one of a kind. The way people are so passionate about the Nets coming here to Brooklyn is something new, and it’s exciting to everyone. Everybody’s really embraced the team here in Brooklyn and it means a lot to us as players to know we have the opportunity to work hard for the fans and bring winning basketball to the city.
Dime: What does playing with a star point guard like Deron Williams do for your game?
JJ: It’s helped me out a lot man. Me and Deron just try to do our best to play off of one another. We really try to make the game easy on ourselves and try not to put so much pressure on one another. With the two of us, we’re able to keep teams off balance because at the end of the game you never know who’s going to take the last shot or the big shot. It’s great because you’ve got two guys who are both very versatile who can create off the dribble and post up and it’s been great for this team.
Dime: What are some differences between Avery Johnson and Mike Woodson’s coaching styles?
JJ: They’re actually both pretty similar. They both really harp on defense. They want their teams to be tough defensive teams that turn stops into easy baskets. One difference between them, I think Avery is a more in-your-face kind of coach and a bit more of a demanding coach. Maybe it comes from being a point guard. You know he’s been leading guys like Tim Duncan and David Robinson throughout his career so he’s very demanding in that aspect. He’ll do whatever it takes to bring the best out of his players.