Joe Johnson’s not known as a superstar across the NBA landscape. He’s not in the elite class of shooting guards reserved for Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant, nor does he have the star power of a Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James. Johnson rarely pushes jerseys and is known far more for his quiet demeanor than his sponsorships.
So why has Johnson received the undying adulation of 24-year-old Yonsan Johnson from China, who has never met him?
In a piece for Vice Magazine, Evin Demirel (which I swear isn’t my code name) shares some e-mail correspondence he’s had in over two years with Yonsan, the founder of the Chinese Joe Johnson Fan Club, nearly 500 members strong.
In the e-mails (always Yonsan’s, never Evin’s), Yonsan shares both his tales of adoration, as well as a stark cultural contrast between the United States and China. Yonsan, who makes the equivalent of $2,400 a year, tells tales of how he saved three months’ worth of salary to buy a game-worn Joe Johnson jersey (receiving it on the same day Joe Johnson signed his six-year, $119 million contract), about how he doesn’t believe Johnson could ever curse on the basketball floor (I’ve got bad news for you, Yonsan…), and about how he frequently changed his name (which is apparently a cultural custom in China to “better navigate the global economy”), settling on Johnson as an homage to his favorite player — making his name Yonsan Johnson, a name Ian Eagle should be legally required to say every day.
When Johnson was traded to the Brooklyn Nets, Yonsan saw it as an opportunity for the six-time All Star:
i got the confidence on joe… no.doubt, he and [Deron] Williams would have some good reaction…
he could get more fans, more sounds of”we love Joe Johnson or Joe Cool…” this can make him more confidence as well. so, give him the time, he needs to ajust, needs to prove…
Johnson evoked strong emotions in Yonsan from a Dime Magazine cover in 2009, in which “he looked down and saw the eyes of a resolute, dignified foreign warrior peering out at him.”
Full story below.
Vice Magazine — Joe Johnson Is Very Big In China — A Love Story
(h/t Yahoo! BDL)