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James Johnson : No Longer a Punchline

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The topic being discussed by everyone writing about the Chicago Bulls seems to be fixated on Carlos Boozer and his broken hand. Did it he trip over the bag? Did he punch a wall? Did he get in to a wrestling match with a midget clown? Okay so the last one probably isn't likely, but you get my point. I'm tired of hearing about Carlos Boozer's broken hand for two reasons. One, he broke his hand in a silly accident. Two, there are way more exciting things happening with the Bulls than Boozer's hand.

Why am I not concerned with my teams major off season signing you ask? It's the play of James Johnson. Yes, that James Johnson.The one that was  overweight, disinterested and looked lost when he actually got court time. Everyone had said he would be the best of the two draft picks, however my belief was always that Taj Gibson was the better player. Then there's that memorable, or forgettable if your JJ, blow by and power dunk by Lebron James against him in last season's playoffs. So come June, every man and his dog was calling for Johnson to be traded or at the very least relegated to the D League.

Enter the 2010 NBA pre-season and James Johnson 2.0. Wait a minute, he's lot 30 pounds and looks athletic. He's getting one on one coaching with the greatest small forward in NBA history, Scottie Pippen. He looks interested with increased court awareness and best of all, he's contributing. In the last two pre-season games he's averaged 18 minutes, 6.5ppg, 3rpg and best of all 0.5 turnovers. Yes you read that right, in two games and a total of 36 minutes he's had 1 turnover. This isn't the only good news, in the last two pre-season games Johnson has gone 6/8 in total from the field, and only committed three fouls.

The naysayers are out in all their negativity claiming, “He's only playing that well because the roster is stronger than last year”, or “It's only the pre-season”. Maybe so, but maybe  JJ has finally turned a corner in his career and attitude?. Often last year he seemed like a spoiled brat,as if court time was his right not something earned. This year however he seems open to being taught, smarter ways of doing things on the court. He appears more media savvy, taking his time with them, and in turn, the media seems to be writing more positive things about him.

These recent developments have made me the happiest Bulls fan in the world. JJ has finally seen the light. He's been impressive with his pre-season play, and his ability to potentially play two positions is exciting. With a 6-9 shooting guard that gives the Bulls size and strength against the bigger guards and teams, which is something the Bulls have been lacking since old 23 left the building. James,as a long suffering Bulls fan, I hope you have a great season and I'm sure with all the positive steps you're taking you will be a success.

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