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Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics

Source: Omar Rawlings / Getty

Joe Johnson a.k.a. “Iso Joe” is back in the NBA after a three-year absence. After lighting it up in the BIG3 league from 2019 through 2021, becoming a two-time MVP there, and winning a championship with the Triplets, the 6-7 guard signed a 10-day contract with the Boston Celtics. The details of Johnson’s contract are undisclosed, but he’s now the only person still in the NBA to have played against Michael Jordan.

Fittingly, the Celts were the same team that drafted Johnson as the 10th overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft. “It’s amazing to be back here 20 years later,” he told ESPN. “It’s still surreal to me.” Iso Joe checked into last night’s game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, and he was met with a standing ovation.

Many NBA rosters have been depleted due to pandemic restrictions, and the 40-year-old vet joins a growing list of former league players returning on 10-day contracts. Johnson wore No. 31 during his first stint in Boston, but he will wear No. 55 this time around.

“It is kind of surreal, to have them chanting my name like that, and obviously come out and us get the win first and foremost, but to come in the game and be somewhat effective, that’s fun,” he said. “At my age, man, you just try to relish every moment, enjoy the process and live in the moment… That’s kind of what I’m doing right now, just living in the moment. And it’s fun.”

Iso Joe easily knocked down one of his patented elbow jumpers en route to the Celts’ 111-101 victory, and the whole night was an emotional capstone for Johnson. However, he also made sure to give thanks to Ice Cube for making his NBA homecoming a possibility.

“The BIG3 was everything for me, man,” Johnson said, according to sports journalist Keith Smith. “Shoutout to Ice Cube for giving me the chance to put my skills on display. I probably wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that opportunity.”