Larry Johnson is beloved by New York City for his heroics.
Down, 91-88, with just 11.9 seconds to go in Game 3 of the 1999 Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers, Johnson was guarded by Indiana Pacers guard Dale Davis. Johnson dribbled and drove to the basket and pump-faked; Davis bit.
Johnson took one dribble left, absorbed contact from Antonio Davis and launched a three-pointer. The whistle blew and the shot went in; tying the game at 91 apiece.
Johnson completed the 4-point play by sinking the free throw and the Pacers missed a shot at the buzzer, giving the Knicks a 2-1 lead in the series.
The 6’8 combo forward remembers that moment fondly and the love that he got following that big play! “This is New York, man and everywhere I go here, it’s like I’m a legend,” Johnson told me on today’s episode of Scoop B Radio. “I done took the nickname Larry Legend, I didn’t think I was that old, really. But that’s what cats have been calling me simply because I believe, the four point play; it’s just one play. It’s the greatest play, I’ve had. I’ve had some pretty good moments in this game: winning a championship in college, being the number one, but making a four point play against one of our arch rivals at Madison Square Garden, that was the craziest.”
A native of Dallas, Texas, Johnson believes that his connection to his city runs deep. He spoke reverently about local athletes like Roger Staubach and others being influential to his growth and being the blueprint on how to be a positive athlete. He also shared a time that he met and played a one on one game against NBA Hall of Famer, Calvin Murphy. “He let me win,” said Johnson.
“I was like 14 years old. My mom was there. He was passing by, the shoe store. I don’t know if ya’ll know Payless. He had a big ‘ol sign with it and it said it was Calvin Murphy. And I was taller than him at the time. Of course, I was 14 and Calvin was a guard and I think he let me win.”
Johnson was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets as the 1st pick in the 1991 NBA Draft out of UNLV. The Hornets, of course went through some ownership and name changes and now a rebirth under majority owner Michael Jordan, Johnson is happy to see his old team do well. “What goes around comes around,” said Johnson. “I know they were down for a while. You get some draft picks, you get some guys in there and you get your nucleus together and you start winning ball games.
Johnson was happy specifically to see the Hornets change the name back from Bobcats to Hornets. “That was the right thing to do, that was the right thing to do,” he said. “Now they just need to start to getting back guys like Muggsy Bogues and getting those original guys back. I wasn’t really the original , I was one of the big parts, but I wasn’t one of the original. It was the original guys that really made that franchise and put and kept it together, so to go back to the Charlotte Hornets, that’s the only thing that they could do! That was the best thing. The Charlotte Bobcats? Stop it! Stop it! The Charlotte Hornets.”
Brandon Robinson is a sports and entertainment writer and TV personality. You can catch his Scoop B Radio Podcast every Thursday by visiting ScoopBRadio.com. Follow him on Twitter @SCOOPB and visit www.ScoopB.com for more info.
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