Stanley Johnson’s verbal resilience after the Detroit Pistons’ Game 1 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday struck a chord with a legion of NBA fans and followers who appreciated the 19-year-old’s unwillingness to back down.
Johnson doubled down on those remarks following Game 2. But on the heels of a 17-point loss, dropping the No. 8 seeded Pistons into an 0-2 hole in their best-of-seven first round series, it’s safe to wonder how head coach Stan Van Gundy may feel about these comments in the morning.
“I’m definitely in his head. That’s for sure,” Johnson said of Cavaliers forward LeBron James, who scored 26 points on 12-of-18 shooting in the win.
Johnson wasn’t done there.
“He jabbers,” Johnson continued. “He moves his mouth sometimes. Their whole team does, kind of like their little cheerleaders on the bench. Every time you walk in the right corner. They’re always saying something like they’re playing basketball, like they’re actually in the game. There’s only seven or eight players who play, I don’t see why the other players are talking. They might as well just be in the stands, in my opinion.”
But wait, there’s more.
#Pistons Stanley Johnson on bump from LeBron: "It’s (fake) as hell…I don’t take anything from it, but a cheap ass shot, a cheap ass bump."
— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) April 21, 2016
And then this:
Stanley Johnson on LeBron: "I wish he would just talk when [the game] is 0-0, not when he's up 16."
— Nick Friedell (@NickFriedell) April 21, 2016
According to ESPN Stats & Info, James has scored 15 points on 7-9 field goals with Stanley Johnson as his primary defender this series, including 13 points on 6-6 shooting in Game 2 on Wednesday.
Johnson, meanwhile, showed zero signs of backing down from his matchup with James, engaging in a physical battle with James both inside the paint and out. But so far, James has obliged in illustrating why he’s a 12-time all-star and four-time MVP.
Johnson, for his part, finished with 9 points (4-7) and a -20 plus/minus in the loss.