Joe Johnson returns to Brooklyn, will receive video tribute tonight

1. Joe Johnson (3 seasons, 231 games) Joe Johnson has been close to very good, and for the Brooklyn Nets, that’s enough to be the best. Throughout injuries and moping and 141 wins and low-impact playoff runs and four coaches and general disappointment, Joe has been the main reason that it’s not that bad here. While his stats have been as pedestrian as his name­—15.5 points on 43% shooting, 3.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 0.7 steals per game—he has been the closest thing to a superstar the Brooklyn Nets have had for the most cumulative minutes. Deron Williams had a few games, Brook Lopez had a few games, Paul Pierce had his moments, Andray Blatche a few quarters. But Joe Johnson looked the part more often than anyone else. He was the most important player in the Brooklyn Nets' only playoff series win to date, where he beat up on Toronto's young wings like an older brother dominating pool basketball on a summer afternoon. He had the stretch of games in January 2014, starting with the OKC nail-biter that kickstarted Jason Kidd’s redemption run and prevented that second season from becoming too much of a disaster. In general, preventing the Nets from completely falling off has been Joe Jesus' main role. And for the most part, he's succeeded. The Brooklyn Nets are the Large Hadron Collider. I’m not sure what their purpose is, but the people involved claim they are important, and catastrophe always seems imminent. But Joe has been standing by, making sure every decimal point is in the right spot and everyone is wearing their safety goggles. Joe also hit a bunch of clutch shots after arriving in Brooklyn, cementing himself as the guy who kept getting the ball at the end of games. This is surely an anachronistic way to measure achievement (and a fairly nihilistic long-term strategy on the court), but it also says something positive about how the team has perceived Joe's talent and nerves. The guy who keeps getting asked to take the most important shots at the end of games is some sort of superlative, whatever that may be. While not the most advanced way of thinking, this gives Joe some "I know it when I see it" level of superstardom. And with the Brooklyn Nets' lack of actual superstardom, degrees matter. Spiritually, Joe Johnson has been the Nets true mascot—even before the Nets shipped the BrooklyKnight off to the big practice gymnasium in the sky. Coming to the Nets, Joe was couched in a stratospheric contract, six All-Star appearances and the promise of being the second half of a blue chip backcourt. This pedigree positioned him as a gaudy piece of Brooklyn's business model, but Joe ain’t gaudy. Despite his garish contract and any brash claims made by the Nets, Joe has been nothing but an efficient, consistent, blue-collar employee of the Brooklyn franchise. And this has been enough to make him the best player in Brooklyn franchise history. -Andrew Gnerre

Joe Johnson returns to Brooklyn, will receive video tribute tonight

Joe Johnson, who spent the better part of four seasons in black and white, will return to the Barclays Center for the first time as a member of the Utah Jazz.

In a classy move, the Brooklyn Nets will honor Johnson with a sweet video tribute tonight that’ll have plenty of source material to pull from.

After a few short-lived playoff runs, Johnson was bought out last February as one of Sean Marks’ first moves as general manager, thus allowing the potential Hall of Fame candidate a chance to chase to ring. Although his tenure with the Miami Heat only lasted a few months, his signing with the Jazz over the summer gave a young, athletic team a gritty veteran with a penchant for the big-time bucket.

Of course, the Nets acquired Johnson in 2012 for Anthony Morrow, DeShawn Stevenson, Johan Petro, Jordan Farmar, Jordan Williams, a 2013 first-round draft pick, and a 2015 first-round pick swap. The move was made to team up the sharpshooter with Deron Williams and form ‘Brooklyn’s Backcourt’ as the franchise made the move from New Jersey.

While it certainly didn’t live up to owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s lofty expectations, Johnson provided a majority of the Nets’ best memories over his time in Brooklyn.

The seven-time All-Star is considered the one of the best Nets to ever put on a Brooklyn uniform and he averaged 14.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game during his three and a half years with the franchise. Although Johnson never helped deliver a championship to the borough, he was consistent, durable, earned a trip to the 2014 All-Star Game, carried the Nets to a playoff series win over the Toronto Raptors, and had plenty of clutch performances along the way.

Kevin Garnett once called him “Joe Jesus,” officially tagging the clutch Johnson with the franchise’s best nickname in years. But why?

“He might not be there when you call on him, but he’s there when you need him.”

Before tonight’s Nets-Jazz showdown, take a look at some of Johnson’s game-winners, ankle-breakers, and record-setters!

Johnson’s game-winner versus the Thunder
Johnson’s go-ahead jumper seals win over the Knicks
Johnson’s super-chill three-point contest participation

 Johnson destroys Jusuf Nurkic
Johnson forces overtime, sinks game-winner against the Bucks
Johnson’s game-winner versus Nuggets

Johnson makes Paul Pierce look silly
Johnson’s game-winner over Suns

Johnson’s lights out second half versus Heat

Welcome home, Joe!