Had the tirade been directed his way, Glen Davis might have cried. Robert Horry might have thrown a towel. DeMarcus Cousins might have taken the pacifier out of his mouth, asked his mother to stop breast-feeding him and then threatened to throw knuckles.*
But when Doc Rivers ran onto the court with his eyes bulging, neck pulsating and a vein popping from the middle of his forehead, JaJuan Johnson didn’t make a scene. He simply admitted he deserved the harsh words and used them as motivation. (Boston Herald)
“It reminded me of my college coach yelling,” Johnson said of Rivers’ loud words in Toronto. “But it needed to be done. We weren’t doing what we were supposed to do. You don’t want a coach just sitting back and letting it happen. It was a good thing, and it got everybody’s attention.”
Rivers’ approach had the intended effect with Johnson. The kid listened, didn’t freeze or seize up. And he didn’t melt in self-pity.
“Doc is a tough guy, but I wouldn’t expect it any other way,” Johnson said. “Throughout my whole basketball career I’ve always had a coach who was tough on me. I like it. It does nothing but motivate me. I know some people who, when they get yelled at, kind of get down. Me, it makes me focus a little bit more and get locked in. I have no problem when coach yells at me or tells me different things. It does nothing but help.”
It’s nice to have a 6-10 rookie with a 38-inch vertical leap and soft touch from the perimeter. It’s even nicer to have a mature 6-10 rookie who understands his limitations and knows that sometimes, a coach’s job isn’t to coddle you but to verbally kick your ass. Johnson isn’t perfect. He needs work, polish and perhaps a couple dozen more pounds. But he works hard, he has potential, and he seems to get it. All good signs.
*I am starting to really like Cousins. Seriously. Just couldn’t resist making a very immature baby joke. Apparently, I have a little Glen Davis in me.