Former Arkansas Basketball player Joe Johnson, 40, makes triumphant NBA return

Former Arkansas Basketball player, Joe Johnson (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
Former Arkansas Basketball player, Joe Johnson (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports) /
Arkansas Basketball
Former Arkansas Basketball player Joe Johnson (David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports) /

Joe Johnson, a former star guard for the Arkansas Basketball team, made headlines around the sports world for making his return to the NBA after a long absence.

The Razorback was signed to a 10-day contract by the Boston Celtics, the very team that drafted him back in 2001.

Johnson had not played in an NBA game since the 2017-2018 season, when he suited up for the Houston Rockets in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors.

What has former Arkansas Basketball player Joe Johnson been up to?

It’s been a long journey to get to that two point basket “Iso Joe” nailed Dec. 22, 2021. The 40-year-old had been out of the NBA and playing in the BIG3 Basketball league.

That league, founded by rapper and actor Ice Cube, features predominantly recently retired and out-of-work NBA veterans competing in a three-on-three style game.

Johnson also suited up in The Basketball Tournament where he competed with his teammates for a chance to win $1 million in a single-elimination tournament.

Johnson had been staying in incredible shape and hoping to earn one more shot at competing in the NBA.

“Iso Joe” finally got that chance when, because of the NBA’s Health & Safety Protocols, the Boston Celtics called to see if he would be interested in signing with the team to help fill out their active roster.

Teams across the NBA have been bringing back players who were once thought to be washed-up or likely never to play in the league again. Covid-19 has enable some players an unlikely encore as teams search for serviceable players to serve as a stop-gap while their long-term signees wait out their league-mandated quarantine period.

Joe Johnson was the 1999-2000 SEC Rookie of the Year and a 2x All-SEC player before he was drafted No. 10 overall in the 2001 NBA Draft. He has played for seven teams in his NBA career, the majority of which came with the Atlanta Hawks (2005-2012) and the Brooklyn Nets (2012-2016).

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