Celtics fans erupt after Joe Johnson returns 20 years after NBA debut

Johnson started his career with Boston when he was drafted 10th overall in 2001

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TD Garden erupted into cheers Wednesday night after Joe Johnson hit his signature isolation shot more than 20 years after making his NBA debut with the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics were leading the Cleveland Cavaliers by 14 points when the crowd began cheering "We Want Joe! "We Want Joe!"

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That’s when 40-year-old Johnson, who last wore a Celtics' jersey in February 2002, took the court with just under two minutes remaining, hitting a fallaway jumper in the final minute of the game. 

Joe Johnson #55 of the Boston Celtics brings the ball up court during the fourth quarter of the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden on Dec. 22, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Joe Johnson #55 of the Boston Celtics brings the ball up court during the fourth quarter of the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden on Dec. 22, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

"Iso Joe" signed a 10-day contract with the Celtics on Wednesday as a part of NBA’s hardship exemption rule implemented as a way to help teams whose rosters are suffering as a result of the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

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"It is kind of surreal," Johnson said after the 111-101 victory. "To come into the game and be somewhat effective, that's fun. At my age you try to relish every moment, enjoy the process and live in the moment. That's kind of what I'm doing right now, living in the moment and it's fun."

Justin Anderson #1 of the Cleveland Cavaliers attempts to block Joe Johnson #55 of the Boston Celtics shot during the fourth quarter of the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden on Dec. 22, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Justin Anderson #1 of the Cleveland Cavaliers attempts to block Joe Johnson #55 of the Boston Celtics shot during the fourth quarter of the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden on Dec. 22, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

Before the game, Johnson said he wasn’t focusing on his age, despite becoming the second-oldest player in the NBA with his short contract. 

"I know it’s a young man’s game, but at the same time, like I said, I pay a lot of attention to my body," he said. 

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Johnson started his career with Boston when he was drafted 10th overall in 2001. The seven-time All-Star played 1,276 regular-season games through the 2017-18 season, averaging 16.0 points with the Celtics, Phoenix, Atlanta, Brooklyn, Miami, Utah and Houston.

Joe Johnson #55 of the Boston Celtics leaves the court after the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 22, 2021 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Joe Johnson #55 of the Boston Celtics leaves the court after the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 22, 2021 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

"We know what he is," Celtics coach Ime Udoka said, via ESPN. "Everybody said it as they walked in [the locker room]: 'Joe's a bucket.' That's what he is and he's always been, and so that's not gonna change."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.