1/12/13

Amir Johnson is One of a Rare Group "Sports Warriors"

Sometimes some of the things I have been most proud of writing are just ideas that have popped into my head. This is one of those moments. I was watching NFL pre-game coverage for the playoffs and the debate of what should have been done about Robert Griffin III came on. He played last week and eventually was injured and forced to leave the game against the Seahawks. He as a result has had to have surgery and should be back in time for the next NFL season.

At this point you’re thinking what on earth does this have to do with the Toronto Raptors. It doesn’t other than it sparked thoughts of Amir Johnson and how he, like Griffin, has been a true sports warrior and fought through injures and  played through pain. He never seeks out praise for this, as is it just the way he is. The type of person he is at the core of his make-up.

The Raptors had a similar player in their history. Alvin Williams was this same type of "sports" warrior. He paid a tremendous price for that likely, having a far shorter career than he likely would have otherwise. However, as part of that price he paid, he is perhaps with out much debate one of the most respected Raptors of all time as a result.

Sports... all of them, you pay a physical toll on your body. While we constantly complain about how much athletes are paid. They are paid to this level, in part, because they truly risk their physical well being every time they step on the field of play. Amir Johnson likely gets paid a little more than his stats would suggest he deserves. Yet the noise about that has drifted to the background. Fans are quicker to point out what Landry Fields is getting paid.

Johnson gets a pass in this regard because he has quite frankly earned one. Through his actions we are convinced that if Amir Johnson is able to play a game he will play a game. Regardless of what you think of his contract, no one can deny his effort to earn every dollar of it. He does it by fighting through nagging injures and likely more pain than we are ever truly aware of. Only Amir Johnson knows the damage he has done to himself and fought through to play the game he truly must love to do so.

I think as society we have become far too soft and far too hypocritical. If you are going to question the toughness of some you can’t stop others from displaying that toughness.

Pro athletes are given the best medical advice and medical opinions to ensure they can make informed decisions. They are huge investments for franchises and as people have careers and lives after the sport to consider.

At the end of the day given all that advice and knowledge they make choices. Would we consider all of them the wisest choices personally? Perhaps not, but it is all about who these individuals are as people. In life we all have choices and they are made with many factors that make up that process. Athletes are no different.

The Raptors have had their share of what would be considered “soft” players and guys that would not risk playing through a hangnail.

In the end the guys who earn the true respect of fans are not guys like Chris Bosh, Vince Carter and others. It is the guys that are warriors that fight with pride, for both the name on the front and the back of their jerseys.

Instead of questioning what is morally right or wrong, maybe we should just appreciate what is courage, determination and ultimately loyalty. Maybe that message is lost on people who are so quick to boo over not getting a free slice of pizza. It is the people that truly understand what this game is about and life is about that should respect these rare individuals with their support.

Amir Johnson is a young man that entered this league at such a young age and has grown into a man while playing professional basketball. Perhaps the reason he was able to do that is he has always had this warrior spirit inside of him.

He does this with a contrasting fun side off the floor. Johnson is a giving person that goes out of his way to thank and appreciate the fans beyond any athlete that I can think of. 

We all should never forget what guys like this are doing for us. In what ultimately is for our entertainment watching a sport that we enjoy. People may look down on my love of professional wrestling but in the end the guys in sports entertainment do some of these very same things. They are playing through pain to entertain you at the end of the day. 

Next time you decide to cry about what someone is paid, or moan about something that really is secondary, remember there are people in this world putting their bodies and physical well being at risk. They are compensated for that financially. That said the ones that are the true warriors will do it regardless of that.

We live in a world that tries to destroy heroes and fails to acknowledge the greatness of others not nearly enough. Be it Robert Griffin III, Alvin Williams, Amir Johnson or CM Punk, they all have one common element. They are warriors that fight hard to do what they love to do.

If you don’t respect that, love that and cheer for that there is something wrong with you. You are missing out on some people with true values that should be admired and respected.

They all know what they are doing and understand the risks involved. It is not society’s job to tell them to not be who they are. They have every right to decide what they want to do and what risk they are willing to take with their bodies.

These folks are rare and if you don’t have respect for them and their right to do it, we really are done talking here.

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