Hawks forward Ivan Johnson's questionable behavior is well-documented, but he apparently doesn't have the stomach for Kevin Garnett's style of play.
The 28-year-old rookie voiced his displeasure following Atlanta's practice on Monday, calling into question KG's integrity.
"Garnett, he's a dirty player," Johnson said. "He gives me a lot of elbows, and I can handle that."
Garnett, of course, has a gained a reputation of being somewhat of an agitator on the court. His intensity has been questioned many times by opposing players, but Johnson's call-out is rather hilarious given the rookie's not-so-clean reputation himself.
Johnson had run-ins with coach Ernie Kent at the University of Oregon, was banned from the Korean Basketball League after he made an obscene gesture at an official, led the NBDL in technical fouls last season, and was even benched by his NBDL coach with the Erie Bayhawks for his behavior.
"That's just my emotions for the game," Johnson told The Atlanta Journal Constitution back in December. "If I feel I'm being cheated, my emotions, they go crazy sometimes. That's what I've been working on. I try to keep my cool. As long as I keep my cool, I'm good."
To his credit, Johnson has kept his cool for the most part this year, appearing in 56 games with the Hawks during the regular season. However, his temper is part of what kept him away from the NBA hardwood for so long, and he understands that certain players — like Garnett — might use his occasional anger as ammunition against him.
"I was prepared for that," Johnson said Monday. "I already knew how KG was going to come at me. They're a whole bunch of mess-talkers.
"I know we're not going to fight on the court. I can handle it," he added. "I can take some hits. I try not to [hit back] because I'm usually the one that gets caught."
We'll see if Johnson's able to keep his cool throughout the series, but Garnett might have just been given even more ammo to use against the rookie.
What's wrong with Albert?
We've got some looking in the mirror to do, some regrouping. We need to make some changes so that we're better. I think X's and O's and film, we've done that to death. It's about intestinal fortitude and coming together as a group.
–Blues captain David Backes, after St. Louis fell behind 2-0 in its best-of-seven series with Los Angeles
Maybe he could have won that fight.
Start practicing, kids.