Former Roommates Reunite in NBA
When you talk to Suns swingman Wes Johnson, you leave the conversation believing that you just spoke with one of the quietest and most polite players in the NBA.
While Suns point guard Diante Garrett sees Johnson in that same light, he also knows a completely different side of his teammate. He knows a side that is free-spirited and comedic.
He knows that because the two were once college roommates.
Before Johnson starred at Syracuse and became a First-Team All American, the 6-7 high-flyer was a standout for Iowa St. After his sophomore season as a Cyclone, he transferred to the Orangemen.
But before he was the Big East Player of the Year, you could find Johnson in a four-bedroom Iowa St. apartment playing NBA 2K against Garrett. Fast forward to the present, and now the two are playing NBA 2K against each other again, except this time in hotel rooms on the road as members of the Suns.
Johnson was acquired by the Suns in a trade during the offseason, while Garrett earned a spot on the roster after faring well in training camp and as a member of the Suns’ summer league squad. When Garrett was invited to workout with the team during the preseason, the duo reunited.
“When I came through the door he was here working out,” Garrett recalled. “And when he saw me, he yelled ‘DG!’ We linked up again like we never fell off.”
Back in Ames, Iowa, the two lived in an apartment with two other Cyclone hoopers. After one of their teammates transferred, they turned that fourth bedroom into a game/computer room.
It was the site of many epic video game battles, many of which Johnson claims to have dominated. However, Garrett believes that years of seasoning has erased the gap between them as gamers - maybe not in football - but definitely in basketball.
“In Madden (NFL video game), I just like to throw ‘Hail Maries’ because I don’t like to use strategies,” Garrett explained. “But when it comes to NBA 2K, we both like to get after it.”
Although Johnson was a sophomore when Garrett showed up on campus, the elder Cyclone didn’t use his seniority to his advantage.
“He already was out there a year in when I got there so he knew what to do and what not to do,” Garrett said.
Johnson regarded Garrett as a great roommate; one that wasn’t loud, unruly or dirty. They also never fought over what to watch on TV.
Both enjoyed sports, Martin and the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
“It was always fun,” Johnson said. “I could never remember a bad time where he got under my skin, so it was good just to come back here and have him as my teammate again.”
After finishing up at Iowa St. and playing a year overseas, Garrett is beginning his rookie season in the NBA with the Suns. Although Garrett was undrafted, Johnson always thought that he would end up in the league.
“He was always good,” Johnson said. “I always thought that he’d make it because he has a unique skill set and is really crafty with the ball. He also works hard.”
As a rookie, Garrett has been fortunate to have a veteran to show him the NBA ropes.
“It’s always good to have a teammate that you knew from the past both on and off the court,” Garrett said. “He’s been teaching me stuff in both places.”
You can find the two working on their games together after practice, as well as hanging out away from the arena.
“He hasn’t a changed,” Johnson said. “He’s still the same funny guy he was back then.”
And while everyone else may know Johnson as mild-mannered, Garrett wants everyone to know that they’re being fooled.
“That guy is a comedian once you get to know him,” the Suns rookie said. “He loves to dance. He’ll do the ‘stanky leg’ or the ‘Dougie’ out of nowhere once you get to know him.”
While Johnson admits that his impromtu dancing antics might be true, he’s not caving in on who’s a better video game player. But we’ll see if that changes by the end of this season.
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