24 seconds with DerMarr Johnson: Comeback "really no big thing"
DerMarr Johnson's life changed on Sept. 13, 2002, the evening that the car he was driving slammed into a tree. The 6-foot-9, 201-pound forward had spent a night out on the town...
DerMarr Johnson's life changed on Sept. 13, 2002, the evening that the car he was driving slammed into a tree. The 6-foot-9, 201-pound forward had spent a night out on the town with a friend and was driving from an Atlanta nightclub to his house in the suburbs.
At around 5 a.m., the accident occurred and Johnson, the No. 6 pick in the 2000 draft, suffered four fractured vertebrae in his neck.
Atlanta released him after his injury and he had a brief stint with New York last season. He signed a non-guaranteed contract with Denver before the season, but has played himself into the rotation.
Johnson has started the past three games in place of the injured Carmelo Anthony.
Seattle Times: I've heard you downplay your comeback, but you must admit it's pretty amazing.
DerMarr Johnson: It's really no big thing. I don't think about it. The only time I do is when people ask me about it.
ST: Can you take me back to that night? What happened?
DJ: Really I wouldn't do much different, except the last part. It was a good night. I got tired and fell asleep. That's really it.
ST: Then tell me about how you came back?
DJ: It was long. At first, I had doctors telling me that I wouldn't play again or I wouldn't do this or do that. But I didn't believe them. I wasn't buying into any of that. I knew I'd play and get back to where I was.
ST: What made you believe that?
DJ: I just did.
ST: Are you the same player that you were before the injury?
DJ: No. In some ways, I'm better. But no. I guess not. I'm getting there. It's not like I can't do anything that I couldn't do before. But inside, I feel it. It's not like I think I'm not as good, but when you take that much time off you have to get used to playing again.
ST: Do you feel like a rookie all over again?
DJ: Nah, not like a rookie, but I feel like I got a second chance. Like I said, I'm just playing again and that's really it.
ST: You really think this is no big deal, don't you?
DJ: People come back from injuries all of the time. I'm no different.
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