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BEST SUNS-STROKE VICTIM Phoenix 2005 - Joe Johnson

Now, we can certainly understand how a rich, young African-American celebrity would relish living in Blacklanta, the capital of Buppie America, but for Phoenix Suns shooting guard Joe Johnson to choose playing for the lowly Atlanta Hawks -- when he could get the same mega-money ($69 million and change over five years) playing for our elite pro basketballers -- is just plain crazy.

We hear that a major reason JJ wanted to go is that some of the Suns players treated him like a bumpkin. See, he doesn't favor the blang-blang of Suns players like star center/forward Amaré Stoudemire, and it's true that JJ has trouble getting a coherent sentence out of his country-fried mouth during postgame interviews. As for Stoudemire vs. Johnson, there was the much-publicized incident in which a snarling Amaré asked JJ during a playoff game if he planned to play "fucking defense?!"

Seems Joe's shy little feelings were damaged beyond repair. Whatever . . . JJ's reasoning must have been clouded by way too much time in the Arizona sun, because he'd have to be suffering from baked-brain syndrome to prefer playing for the worst team in the NBA last year rather than take a little ribbing from certain members of our title-contending purple-and-orangemen. JJ, where was the love for the city and franchise that made yours a household name? Our hearts are as broken as the Salt River bottom after Old Sol has dried up those monsoon puddles.

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