Tyler Johnson: The Ultimate Jersey Collection
One of most fans earliest memories when it comes to sports is receiving that first jersey. No matter which team, who the player is or what color scheme, that jersey can often mold a young fan’s loyalty for their entire life. And just because Suns’ Tyler Johnson is in the NBA and has plenty of his own jersey, doesn’t mean he’s lost the passion of repping other names across his back.
At a young age, Johnson admired other athlete’s trophy collections and the memories that were connected to them. Each trophy told a different story and Johnson wanted something of his own to eventually be able to share with his children. He ultimately decided on jerseys.
“I get one from all my teammates just as part of the history,” Johnson said. “See where you've been to and help know where you're going. Then the second part was just guys who you had a real close connection with. Being able to write things down that my kids will be able to see forever. It's just to be part of my history.”
Jersey swapping has become a special moment in almost every sporting event nowadays and Johnson is front-and-center to exchange with those who’ve made an impact on his life. The idea to start collecting started from one of the most iconic jersey-swapping players in the league and Johnson’s former teammate, Dwyane Wade.
“I stole that from D. Wade on his last dance in his 16th season,” Johnson said. “Just getting guys who actually mean something to me. Like, they've been a part of my story somehow or my journey. It just goes back to so I can show my kids.”
Since he took the concept from Wade, of course, he also took a couple jerseys with it.
“I got D Wades jersey,” Johnson said. “I think I have two actually. He sat right next to me in the locker room when I was in Miami. So, it was just like, go ahead a take care of that for me."
While most players enjoy receiving autographs with the jerseys in order to display throughout their homes, for Johnson, it’s truly all about the memories.
“I don't really care about that so much,” Johnson said about autographs. “You kind of get a feel of where you stand in their careers or history because sometimes people really take time and write on the back of it.”
Whether it’s a former teammate such as James Johnson or an idol of his like Pat Tillman, Johnson has incorporated the jerseys into his wardrobe and the collection has grown quickly in such a short time.
“I'd probably say a little bit under a hundred [jerseys],” Johnson said. “This is the third year of really getting into it.”
One of the jerseys he cherishes the most he received at the end of last season after sharing a locker room with one of his all-time biggest inspirations, Jamal Crawford. Prior to being traded to the Suns last season, Johnson and the Miami Heat visited town earlier in the year when he was finally able to have his first interaction with Crawford.
“That was my fifth year, so it took time to build the courage to actually say something to him. I was like, 'Man, I just wanted to let you know you've been a big part of why I wanted to come off the bench and why I've done it since I was a kid, all the way back to high school. You really helped me with that and so I appreciate it.' He was kind of taken back at first and then we just so happened to play on the same team. He helped me a lot when I first got to Phoenix trying to show me around and understand the team and everything. So, then it was just special.”
Johnson walked out of the building that day wearing his number 11 Crawford jersey with a special handwritten inscription from Crawford himself on the back. That wasn’t the only jersey Johnson left with that day as he now makes the effort to receive a jersey from all of his teammates as part of his journey.
“It's good to support your teammates,” Johnson said. “I still get to wear Suns gear, but then I get to put somebody else's name on the back.”
Although, this can also cause for some confusion in a public setting.
“The worst one is that I wore the Ty Jerome jersey and people thought I was Ty Jerome,” Johnson laughed about. “So, that one was confusing.”
Whether it’s to support his teammates or to contain the memories, Johnson closet is expanding as his jersey collection continues to grow each and every year. Because even being in his third year in the NBA, Johnson is still a fan of the game.