This is Amir Johnson's 11th Media Day since coming into the league, but his first as a member of the Boston Celtics. Despite being one of the new faces on the team, the veteran big man believes that he can still fill a leadership role.
Johnson explained that guys like he and David Lee have a lot of experience on the court, which they can use to help some of the younger players on the roster. For those crunch time situations in a close game, you need veterans that won't shy away from the pressure. Johnson knows that he has the experience that makes him a reliable option in those spots and he has no concerns about asserting himself as a veteran presence that younger players can look up to.
Being a positive influence is great, but Johnson brings a lot more to the table than that. Last year he averaged more offensive rebounds than anyone on this Celtics roster, so that's one area he expects to make his presence felt. What does Johnson think the secret to offensive rebounding is?
"Just being relentless, always going for the ball, always having a knack or read on the ball. Just wanting to get those second chance points and keeping the ball alive. Even if I can't get the ball I try to tip it out, tip it to another player."
Johnson recalled a moment from last season when Marcus Smart defeated his Toronto Raptors on a last second put-back on an offensive rebound. Those are backbreaking losses, but they show the importance of being aggressive on the boards.
When asked what he thought of the Celtics last year while he was in Toronto, Johnson compared them to the Raptors team he was on a couple of years ago. A young team, still trying to find themselves, gradually progressing and improving. Now that he's here in Boston, hopefully he'll be able to help take this young squad to the next level, much like he did for the Raptors when they made the leap to division winners.
Johnson was also asked what he thought about Brad Stevens last year. He described the Celtics coach as very smart, while revealing how impressed he was with his ability to draw up plays and master the X's and O's of the game.
What made him leave Toronto to come to Boston? Johnson explained that it was all about how much the Celtics made him feel appreciated. Danny Ainge's pitch involved knowing the history of Johnson's career, dating all the way back to his high school days. He certainly did his homework and the extra effort didn't go unnoticed by Johnson. He wanted to go to a place that wanted him and the Celtics did a fantastic job of convincing him that they were the team that wanted him the most.