Denver Nuggets A to Z: Ervin Johnson
Center found a home even after his one season in Mile High City
Ervin Johnson spent one season with the Denver Nuggets.
End of story, right? Hardly.
As part of a month-long tribute to some of the most memorable players in franchise history, we are taking a look at the Nuggets from A to Z.
J is for Johnson, a 6-foot-11 center who led Denver in rebounding (11.1 rpg) and blocked shots (2.77 bpg) during the 1996-97 season but was traded to Milwaukee as part of roster overhaul the following summer.
Although he was no longer with the Nuggets, Johnson made his offseason home in Denver while playing for the Bucks and Minnesota Timberwolves over the next nine years.
“I loved the weather, and I loved the people,” Johnson said in an interview with Nuggets.com in 2011.
“I thought it was a clean, healthy place. It was a great fit for raising a family.”
When Johnson retired in 2006, he became community ambassador for the Nuggets, a role he still has eight years later. And what a story Johnson has to tell.
Raised by a single mom in a low-income neighborhood in New Orleans, Johnson was bagging groceries at a Baton Rouge supermarket when University of New Orleans basketball coach Tim Floyd offered him a scholarship.
As a 22-year-old freshman, Johnson averaged a modest 6.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.94 blocks. Three years later, he averaged 18.4 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.66 blocks and was named the 1992-93 Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year.
Johnson was drafted 23rd overall by Seattle in 1993 and spent three seasons with the SuperSonics before signing with the Nuggets as a free agent in 1996.
His days in a Nuggets uniform were limited. His days in Denver are still going strong.
Game to remember, April 19, 1997
In the final game of the season, Johnson grabbed a career-high 26 rebounds and scored 21points as the Nuggets snapped a 10-game losing streak with a 100-95 road victory against the Dallas Mavericks. The 26 boards were the second-most in franchise history at the time; Timofey Mozgov eclipsed it with 29 rebounds for Denver on April 10, 2014.