Eddie Johnson (basketball, born 1955)
Johnson as a member of the Hawks in 1981
February 24, 1955 |
|Listed height||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Listed weight||180 lb (82 kg)|
|High school||Lake Weir (Summerfield, Florida)|
|NBA draft||1977 / Round: 3 / Pick: 49th overall|
|Selected by the Atlanta Hawks|
|1986–1987||Tampa Bay Thrillers|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NBA statistics|
|Points||10,163 (18.3 ppg)|
|Rebounds||1,522 (2.7 rpg)|
|Assists||3,436 (6.2 apg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Edward Lee "Fast Eddie" Johnson Jr. (born February 24, 1955) is a retired American professional basketball player. A 6'2" guard from Auburn University, Johnson played 10 seasons (1977–1987) in the NBA, mainly as a member of the Atlanta Hawks. Eddie's younger brother Frank played and coached in the NBA, also being a guard.
He represented the Hawks in two NBA All-Star Games (1980 and 1981) and scored 10,163 points in his career. As a player, he was known for his great speed and slashing ability, with a capable outside shot. However, Johnson is known today for how his life spiraled out of control, beginning with his expulsion from the NBA.
A product of Auburn University, Johnson joined the Atlanta Hawks as a relatively unsung prospect; 48 players were chosen before the Hawks selected him in the third round of the 1977 NBA draft. Johnson spent his first season sharing time in the backcourt with 5-foot-8 Charlie Criss. Averaging 10.5 points, the rookie helped the Hawks return to the playoffs after a four-year absence, a feat repeated in six of Johnson's eight full years with the club.
With Criss injured the following year, Johnson became a starter in 1978–79. During that season, Johnson advanced as far as he ever would in pursuit of an NBA ring, losing in the conference semifinals to the Washington Bullets. He was a starter four consecutive seasons, averaging at least 16 points each season. In only his third year in the league, fans voted Johnson into a starting spot in the NBA All-Star Game. He scored 22 points on 11-of-16 shooting in the 1980 midseason classic and 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting as a starter one year later. During that latter regular season, Johnson ranked second on the Hawks in scoring, with a career-high 19.1 points per game.
Injuries and drug problems had begun to slow Johnson by 1982; he played in no more than 73 games per year from that point on. Still, he managed to score 16 or more points per game in two of his final three seasons playing with the Hawks. With Johnson, Glenn "Doc" Rivers, Johnny Davis, Rory Sparrow and Anthony "Spud" Webb, Atlanta boasted arguably some of the best backcourt talent in the league.
Although one of the more popular Hawks during his tenure, Johnson was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers midway through the 1985–86 season. He would finish his career with the Seattle SuperSonics a year later.
Johnson battled a cocaine addiction for many years. After several suspensions, he finally checked himself into rehab in 1986. After he failed to follow through on mandatory counseling, the NBA banned him for life in 1987.
In 675 NBA games, Johnson scored 10,163 points, with a career average of 15.1 points per game, reaching double figures in scoring in 9 of his 10 years in the NBA.
Off-court issues and imprisonment
Johnson's life continued to spiral out of control following his banishment from the NBA, being arrested and convicted multiple times for various offenses since expulsion, while admitting he had frequent drug problems which had initially cost him his career.
Johnson's rap sheet numbered about 100 arrests and five stints in and out of the Florida prison system when in 2006, Johnson was arrested for burglary and sexual battery and molestation of an 8-year-old girl, while awaiting trial on charges of raping another woman. The arrest created additional controversy when, in multiple publications, the picture of another NBA player named Eddie Johnson (6'7", a small forward, four years younger, middle name Arnet, a former NBA Sixth Man of the Year winner, and a veteran of nearly 1,200 NBA games) was used in articles covering the arrest (despite that Eddie Johnson having had no encounters with the police other than minor traffic citations). The former Kansas City/Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, Seattle SuperSonics, and Houston Rockets forward (then and now employed in Arizona) considered suing for defamation and negligence, due to the damage to his reputation that occurred following the reports.
In 2008, Johnson was convicted of sexual battery of a minor under 12 and lewd and lascivious molestation of a child under 12. The counts carried a mandatory life sentence without parole. Johnson is currently incarcerated at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution.
- "Anatomy of a breakdown: The rise and fall of former NBA star Eddie Johnson". Usatoday.com. 2006-11-18. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
- Lee, Suevon (2008-10-30). "'Fast Eddie' Johnson guilty of sex assault on 8-year-old". Ocala.com. Retrieved 2014-01-10.
- Career statistics and player information from Basketball-Reference.com