John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
AMC, one of SB Nation's sponsors, has asked us to name player or players on the Toronto Raptors' who have mastered a craft in particular. Prior to the Rudy Gay trade, Jose Calderon and his non-turnover ways would have been the choice, but in wake of said move, we turn to the hustle-master, Amir Johnson.
If you asked Toronto Raptors' coach Dwane Casey to describe his forward, Amir Johnson, he might say something along the lines of "Amir just gets the job done."
And it would be very hard to argue otherwise.
On a team that's lacked an abundance of hustle and grit since the days of Charles Oakley and the Junk Yard Dog, Jerome Williams (insert barking noise), Amir has indeed been a breath of fresh air. He's averaging nearly 10 points and 7 rebounds a game, but those totals don't dig nearly deep enough into what makes him a Master of his Craft, nor does it explain his team MVP campaign this season.
But perhaps this clip from the Raps' win last week over the Indiana Pacers helps:
A clutch 3 for the win?
A fade-away jumper to tie it, as time expires?
What that one minute showcased was Amir in all his hustling, grinding, determined, and yes, sometimes stumbling, glory, carrying his team on his back by simply out-working his opponents. He's a master at that craft, the classic NBA motor man, a skill that often overtakes talent when used consistently.
(For an example of the opposite see teammate Bargnani, Andrea.)
Night in and night out, it's the same thing for a guy that never takes a game off, and who often delivers his best results when labelled a game-time decision due to sickness or injuries.
He presses on, and that desire to compete and never relent becomes infectious, helping an underwhelming Raptors team (especially pre-Rudy Gay) compete and stay close to opponents game in and game out.
So a toast to Mr. Johnson, indeed a master at his craft.
When he signed a five year $34M contract with the Toronto Raptors on July 1, 2010, many questioned just how sound such a deal was considering his meager playing time and totals with Detroit, the club that drafted him back in 2007.
No one's questioning that now.
Instead, considering the production he's provided both on the court and off, you have to wonder if this master of his craft isn't on the underpaid side.
I mean, how much would most team's Marketing and PR departments pay to have playersthis attached to their brand!