(CBS Local Sports)– Joe Johnson is 40 years old, but he is proving that he is still one of the best basketball players in the world. The 7x All-Star is one of the many former NBA players shining in the Big3, which is the league created by Ice Cube and entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz for players outside of the NBA to continue to play the game they love. Week 7 begins this Saturday, August 14 at 1pm EST/PST on CBS and will be streaming on Paramount+.
Johnson is currently the leading scorer in the league with 152 total points and he has the most steals and total field goals. The former Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets star recently chatted with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith about what it’s like to play in the Big3, his favorite memories from his 18-year NBA career and the time he got to guard Michael Jordan.
“This year, I’m just fortunate enough to be able to compete. We’ve been through so much as a country over the past year and a half,” said Johnson. “To finally get a chance to compete and have fans come to the game has been awesome. Jannero Pargo is my teammate and we played college ball together. We are always talking, always in contact and always trying to come up with a game plan. We are always working out together and that is comforting. I know so many guys on all the other teams.”
“A few of them live in Atlanta and we work out together and play pick up together,” said Johnson. “It’s all been fun. There’s Josh Smith, Jarrett Jack and Josh Powell and these are guys I have been playing with over the past few summers and it’s fun to come out on the big stage on CBS and compete.”
The 10th pick in the 2001 NBA Draft averaged 16 points per game during his 18-year NBA career and averaged over 20 points per game for five straight seasons while he played for the Atlanta Hawks. Johnson played for the Boston Celtics, Phoenix Suns, Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets. His offensive prowess earned him the nickname “Iso Joe” and he is still getting buckets in the Big3 just like he did in the NBA.
“It’s my first love and I value that and just because I’m not playing in the NBA doesn’t mean I still can’t play basketball at a high level,” said Johnson. “I take care of my body, control what I can control and try and go out there to compete and have fun. The Big3 is entertaining and it is not as easy as it may look or seem. If you are in shape, you will be alright. For me, I grew up in the Hoopfest playing 3 on 3 when I was 13 or 14 and I won that. I got to thank Ice Cube for putting this league together. I played 18 seasons and it is such a toll on your body. If you don’t do the things you need to do to keep your body strong, you will eventually break down. For me, it’s just the longevity and enjoying the game.”