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January 19, 2022 | 2:57 pm EST Update

Masai Ujuri told Stanley Johnson he was bad at basketball

Johnson’s next stop was with the Toronto Raptors, where he averaged 3.8 points and 2.2 rebounds per game on 38% shooting from the field from 2019 to 2021. He also played three games for Toronto’s G League Raptors 905. Though Johnson once scored a career-high 35 points for Toronto and was viewed as a defensive stopper, his tenure concluded with some tough love from Raptors president Masai Ujiri and other members of the front office. Johnson says he needed that career-altering honesty from Ujiri.
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“That was a real honest conversation. That’s what I needed to hear,” Johnson said. “In the NBA, honesty is not always the first and foremost thing that people want to give you because it’s not the easiest thing to say to people that are professionals. I’ve been playing basketball all my life. I’m pretty damn good at basketball, so to tell me I’m bad at basketball, it’s a hard conversation to have with a professional athlete.
“It takes a different type of man to tell you that to your face and not in a pessimistic way, in a constructive way. What are you going to do? Are you going to take [it poorly] or are you going to do something about it? I felt like I want to do something about it. I’m 25 years old. I know I’ve been fortunate. I’ve been in the league for a long time because I got in early, but I’m not even anywhere close to my prime, anywhere close to the player that I can be in my life.”
Through it all, Johnson said he never got depressed, kept working and relied on his faith in God. “Even during the worst days, I’m still so blessed,” Johnson said. “Who would’ve known that this would’ve been my job for so long? I met so many awesome people with basketball. I can’t take it as all negative. “This is the best s— that’s ever [been] in my life. [This is] some positive s—. Obviously, it’s not going as the way I had planned, but I never went back home like, ‘Hey, F this, I don’t really want to do this anymore.’ The fact is through this, I was still getting paid to work out and play basketball on a daily basis.”
January 19, 2022 | 1:27 pm EST Update