Amir Johnson allowed frustration to get the better of him with the Toronto Raptors season quickly spiraling out of control.
Johnson was suspended one game after the end of a winless west coast road trip for throwing his mouthpiece at an official who had just ejected the forward from the game.
The Raptors went 0-5 on their recent five game road trip after falling to the Portland Trailblazers 92-74. The team hit its low point of the west coast swing when Johnson got into a wrestling match over the ball with official David Jones.
After J.J. Hickson completed a free throw attempt for the Trailblazers, Johnson and Jones grabbed the bouncing ball at the same time. Both men refused to give the other the ball with neither letting go as the two stared each other down. Finally Jones blew the whistle and began walking to the scorer’s table after calling a technical foul on Johnson who continued to argue with the official. Jones then turned around and ejected Johnson from the game.
Johnson began walking towards Jones and had to be held back by teammate Mickael Pietrus. Soon after multiple teammates surrounded Johnson to hold back the livid forward, he then launched his mouthpiece hitting Jones in the back.
The frustrations have clearly set in for the Raptors after the team’s season record fell to 4-19 with the 6-foot-9 power forward sitting out his one game suspension in a loss to the Brooklyn Nets. The Raptors only had eight players see action in the game as the team has been badly bitten by the injury bug with five players being forced to sit out along with the suspended Johnson.
Johnson is a high energy forward who is known for his hustle and hardworking attitude. He’s far from a confrontational and is usually one of the team’s calmest players on court. He’s has had little if any issues with the officials in his 240 games as a Raptor as Johnson is not the type that disrespects the officials in the manner he did.
The NBA gave Johnson a little leniency with only a one game suspension for his perfect strike down the pipeline that hit Jones’ number on the back of his official’s uniform. Not only was it an impressive throw but Raptors are 1-12 in their past 13 games, so it’s understandable the player is going to get a little testy when he’s not allowed to see the ball.
Most likely Johnson’s uncharacteristic nature in the incident is what kept it to only a one game suspension. Had it been a player with a history of a disrespectful past like Rasheed Wallace or Stephen Jackson it’d be a guarantee the suspension would be much longer.
Regardless, the situation was needless and never should have occurred in the first place. Johnson wasn’t right in the way he acted and he should know by now that nothing good comes from arguing with an official. At the same time, Jones should have just let him have the ball. What’s he going to do with it? He’ll dribble once, maybe twice, give it a hard squeeze then hand it right back to Jones.
What’s the big deal? Is the 2.5 seconds this will take really going to hold up the game? Nope.
As a result of the suspension, Johnson was forced to miss the game his team needed him the most and the Raptors took one step closer towards a lost season.