Johnson once had the Raptors logo emblazoned in the back of his head. He is now a fan of the old school part.

If you tuned into last Sunday’s Lakers-Raptors telecast to watch the season debut of KOBE BRYANT in his return to the court from last season’s Achilles injury, you were treated instead to the brilliant play of another two-way player: Toronto Raptors power forward AMIR JOHNSON.

Johnson surprised the Staples Center crowd with 32 points on 14-of-17 shooting and pulled down 10 rebounds on an evening that not only was slated to be Kobe’s night-time shine but lifted the short-handed Raptors to a 106-94 win after the club traded its top scorer, Rudy Gay, to the Sacramento Kings just hours before game time. Amir is full of interesting surprises like that as it turns out.

The six-foot-nine L.A. native is an interesting mix of offensive athleticism, defensive prowess and peculiar personality all wrapped into one. Though an unpolished NBA scorer, Johnson does have an uncanny yet efficient offensive presence around the rim (11.4 ppg) and a solid defensive presence as well (6.6 rpg, 1 bpg) this season. Here’s a video montage of the A-Man…

The interesting yet peculiar world of Amir Johnson includes talking with turtles, playing with dolphins, getting downright ghoulish and chilling with baby daughter, Milli.

But it is Johnson’s odd persona that is most interesting. This is a guy that was once tossed from a game for getting into a tug-o-war with a referee over a basketball simply because he likes rubbing the ball after free throws. Anyone’s free throws. When the ref wouldn’t allow him to rub the ball during a game vs. Portland last season, Johnson became incensed and was eventually ejected. Okay…

Oh, it gets better. Dude collects key chains on the road. Hula girl from Hawaii…turtle from the Cayman Islands. It doesn’t matter. Dude has five cars and each car key looks like a New Orleans trinket fest.

Normal black or white socks aren’t Johnson’s style. Not odd enough. He prefers funky socks by Stance with its many different designs and colors. Suddenly, I hear the drums from Cameo’s “She’s Strange” in my ears.

Johnson also shows support for his team by wearing a Toronto Raptors beanie (tuque in Canadian lingo) practically everyday, oddly keeps a monster mask on hand at his locker (in case he wants to scare folks), absolutely loves the Maple Leafs hockey team and has a tattoo of Jack Skellington on his leg because The Nightmare Before Christmas is his favorite movie.

And this past Halloween, Johnson got all dressed up as a ghoul and participated in Toronto’s Zombie Walk parade downtown. Yeah, he’s odd and full of surprises but Amir likes to have fun. What’s life without a little variety, right?

Personally, I like the kind of variety Amir Johnson brings to the court, like this rude rejection of Kawhi Leonard’s field goal attempt in Tuesday’s game against the Spurs…

All in all, Amir Johnson is as fun-loving as he is odd. Playing the dunk game on unsuspecting Raptors personnel certainly withstanding…

Clearly talented enough to be an NBA starter, this is the type of proactive guy who asks to come off the bench instead in an effort to help out his struggling team.

“Yeah. I wanted to see if there would be a difference,” Johnson said. “I wanted to see if we could get the offense going that way. I had talked to the coach weeks before the decision was made. I just wanted to make that clear.”

Oh, we’re clear alright. You’re clearly an interesting yet odd dude, Amir Johnson.


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