WALTHAM, Mass. — Amir Johnson has yet to play a game in a Boston Celtics uniform, but he’s already envisioning himself becoming a fan favorite.
“For me, I’m easy to adjust to,” Johnson said Monday after being introduced alongside Boston’s other offseason additions. “I feel like the fans in Boston will definitely love me. Just my style of play, my personality, just like when I first came to Toronto. There’s just no question to me that the Boston fans will definitely love me.”
Johnson was the Celtics’ marquee free-agent acquisition of the summer, coming over from the Toronto Raptors after signing a reported two-year, $24 million contract. He and fellow newcomer David Lee will be expected to be the centerpieces of the C’s revamped frontcourt.
Boston historically has not been a desirable destination for free agents, but the 28-year-old Johnson said he quickly was sold after speaking with Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens.
Oh, and the chowder didn’t hurt, either.
“Like I said, (Ainge) was the first guy to call me during free agency — like, 9 (p.m. PT) on the dot,” Johnson said. “And after that, it was Brad that called me, and he said he’d been watching my game since high school. I didn’t really know that — that really surprised me. It was just the respect level that brought me to Boston.”
“I don’t know too much about the city, but I’ll definitely learn quickly. I’m excited to see what kind of food places (it has). I’m a big food person. I’ve heard about the clam chowder.”
Much of the conversation at Monday’s news conference — which was used to introduce Johnson, Lee and Perry Jones and reintroduce re-signed free agents Jae Crowder and Jonas Jerebko — centered around the C’s effort to bring in, in Ainge’s words, “great team players.” Nearly every player and executive raved about how will Boston’s crop of newcomers will fit together.
Johnson was no exception.
“I think we’re solid, man,” he said. “We’ve got some vets, we’ve got some young players, and we’ve just got to put it all together. I think Brad will do a great job. (He’s) a smart guy, young coach, good X’s and O’s. I think it’ll all fall (into place). The league is changing now. It’s going a little smaller, seeing what Golden State did, and we have a lot of versatile bigs. With Jae Crowder playing the four, I can play the four and five, David Lee the same thing. So I think we’ll be a solid group. I think we’ll be a lot quicker, too.”
Regardless of how he pans out as a player, Johnson will blaze a new trail as the first Celtic ever to wear No. 90. The veteran forward explained how he decided on the unconventional digits.
“Every number 1 through 34 is basically retired,” Johnson said. “My first initial number, I picked No. 5, but I know there was going to kind of be some controversy with that because Kevin Garnett won a championship. So I knew that was pretty much out of the water. My number (15), of course, was retired. And I recently posted a picture on my social network, I don’t know if you guys checked it out, it was a team back in the ’90s — like ’97, ’96 — I played for my first organized basketball team, which was the Burbank Celtics. It was a Celtics team. So I just kind of just put that together. The ’90s were good. I was born in ’87, but the ’90s were good.”
Hey, whatever works.
Thumbnail photo via Zack Cox/NESN.com
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