It can be so easy at this time of the year to become jaded, angry and frustrated. After all the Raptors will once again will not be heading to the post-season for a fifth straight season. There is no way to run away from that fact. Still, regardless of the Raptors record you can look at a guy like Amir Johnson and smile and be proud he is on your team.
Basketball wise it has been a great season of improvement for him. He has improved his shooting range along with bringing the same hustle and fight we have come to expect from Amir. He is nothing short of a warrior in the sports sense on the basketball court. He still at times will find his way into foul trouble and have games where he does not have his performance match his effort. It happens to everyone at times.
Still you are convinced that no matter what you get the 100% effort from Amir Johnson every time he puts on his uniform. The contract he signed to remain with the Raptors gave him a pretty nice salary. It is more than many of us will every hope to earn in life. I don’t think you will find too many people that would say he hasn’t done everything in his power to earn every last dime of it though. This is really all we ask of athletes at the end of the day.
What we don’t ask but hope is that these people will be good people away from the sport. We hope that they will take the time to appreciate the fans that cheer them on and support them. This is something that Amir Johnson perhaps excels at more than he even does on the basketball court. He is a good person at heart based on every encounter I have ever had with him. He is fun loving and genuine and these are things that you can’t fake.
He is getting his own bobblehead for the game coming up against Atlanta. He deserves that and a lot more with how he has truly embraced Raptors cans and community of Toronto. He, in a world of a lot of athletes that don’t get it or even care to get it, understands what it is to be a good person and role model.
Charles Barkley famously stated that he wasn’t a role model and it is easy enough to say. In an ideal world Charles is right in that athletes are not the most ideal role models to have in this world. That is great but it is not like people get a say in who is going to idolize them anymore than they do in who is going to hate them.
I am pretty sure the list of Amir Johnson haters is a very small one. It is because at the end of the day it is very hard to knock a guy that is by design or by just being who he is a great role model.
He does his job and works hard at it. He is not so caught up in his job to stop him from having fun and enjoying life. He at the core is someone that truly likes people. He does his best to make the experience of meeting Amir Johnson a positive one. He is constantly giving back to fans and having fun with them.
I said to him after one of our interviews that someday he was going to be seen like Jerome Williams is by Raptors fans. A guy that earned the love of fans and to this day is embraced by this fan base. He still makes appearances and has community involvement in Toronto to this day. He also got a nice contract that some would say might have been too much.
See here is what gets wrong with all this stuff in the modern times of caps and advanced stats. There is no real true measure of what heart, leadership and a connection with people is worth. It can’t be measured and it has no real price to it. The amount of fans touched by Jerome Williams or Amir Johnson can not ever really be measured either. That has a value in making those positive connections. It might make someone a bigger fan of this sport based on it. It might inspire a kid to pick up a basketball and play the sport. It could inspire them to be a bigger part of the place they live and work.
Amir Johnson for the third straight year is doing his Roll with Amir Event. He reaches into his pocket and pays for a night that makes memories that will last a lifetime for his fans. That is bigger than 21 rebounds, double-doubles or anything else.
It is by far the most unique event I ever seen done by an athlete in any sport and really speaks to the kind of guy Amir Johnson is. He tries to be humble and never take to much credit for himself. It is always about the team or the fans and not about him.
Like serious in a world that will live where people seem far to caught up in their number of friends on Facebook or followers on twitter is that not a refreshing message.
Amir Johnson came at a time when another guy left and said it was more important for him to win a championship than be concerned about how he went about it. Amir Johnson may never win a championship with the Raptors. It would be great if he did but he will always be a champion of the people and that is something that you can never lose. Every year there is a new champion but if you are a champion of the people that lasts forever.
Amir Johnson is an example of what being a champion of the people is.