Larry Demetric Johnson (born March 14, 1969 in Dallas, Texas) is a former NBA player who spent his career with the Charlotte Hornets and New York Knicks. He was listed as a 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) forward, although he was actually 6’5 1/2 in (197 cm) who went by the nicknames “LJ” and “Grandmama” (because of a commercial in which he dressed up like an old lady).
Johnson played his collegiate ball at UNLV, winning the 1990 NCAA Championship title with them, and was selected first overall in the 1991 NBA Draft by the Hornets, and would win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award.
Along with Alonzo Mourning and Muggsy Bogues, Johnson played with the Hornets at the height of their popularity in the early and mid-1990s. During this time, Johnson was featured on the cover of the premiere issue of SLAM Magazine. Unfortunately, friction between Johnson and Mourning forced the organization to make a change, so the Hornets traded Mourning to the Miami Heat. Much later, Johnson himself was traded by the Hornets for popular Knick, Anthony Mason.
Johnson was a key member of the Knicks’ 1999 Eastern Conference championship team, and was the player who hit with Antonio Davis’s foul, which some refer to as “the phantom four-point play” that cost the Indiana Pacers a victory in Game 3 of the East Finals and, ultimately, the series. Standing outside the 3-point line with 11.9 seconds left, Johnson held the ball, then began to dribble. He leaned into defender Antonio Davis before jumping up. The referee called the foul about a half-second before Johnson released the ball, but it was counted as a continuation shooting foul. The 3-point basket and the ensuing free throw gave the Knicks a 92-91 victory. The play was described by Tom Hammond of The NBA on NBC: “Johnson…. is fouled…. AND HIT!”. He was also a main contributor a year later in the NBA conference finals against in the Indiana Pacers, where even though they lost the series 4-2, he single handedly carried them to the 2 victories they won in the series, coincidentally, when Ewing was not playing.
On October 10, 2001 Johnson announced his early retirement from basketball due to chronic back problems that had plagued him for several years, after his point production decreased for 5 straight years.