Milwaukee Bucks: Meet the 1990s All-Decade Team

DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 20: (Photo credit: PAUL K. BUCK/AFP via Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 20: (Photo credit: PAUL K. BUCK/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks, Ervin Johnson
(Photo credit: JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images) /

Milwaukee Bucks: Meet the 1990s All-Decade Team – Ervin Johnson

Throughout the Bucks’ search for stability and success during the 90s, the center position was basically a turnstile and very emblematic of their run during the decade.

There was some very late career Moses Malone packed in there, Alton Lister, the Bucks’ current all-time block leader, returned for a two-year stint midway through the Mike Dunleavy-era and those are some of the more notable names. It wasn’t until later in the 90s where the Bucks found some stability at the 5-spot with Ervin Johnson, whom they acquired from the Denver Nuggets on the night of the 1997 NBA Draft.

Johnson was certainly far from a skilled center and didn’t demand the ball by any means, as evidenced by his 9.7 usage percentage during his seven seasons with the Bucks. What Johnson did do, though, was give the Bucks a spine protecting the paint and his workman-like contributions, especially on the boards, were critical around the budding offensive brilliance seen in teammates such as Allen, Robinson and later in the 2000s, Sam Cassell.

Standing as the venerable glue-guy for the Bucks in the late 90s and going into the 2000s, Johnson’s contributions certainly went unheralded, especially as the team went on to greater heights during that era’s peak under head coach George Karl.

And Johnson’s story is made all the more remarkable by the fact that he had actually quit the game of basketball as a sophomore in high school, hit a growth spurt and was lured to come back to the game by University of New Orleans coach Tim Floyd going into his freshman year in 1989. After four solid years, Johnson was drafted 23rd overall in the 1993 NBA Draft, all at 25 years old.

When asked of how he was able to carve out a lengthy NBA career against incredible odds, Johnson elaborated on it to ahead of getting inducted to the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame back in the summer of 2018:

"“I thought I was prepared and mature,” Johnson says of his ability to build a lengthy NBA resume. “I believed in hard work, and I was willing to do anything to help the team. I had great coaches on every team, and I had good teammates. I had a desire to play, and I was always willing to put in the time. I’m sure I surprised a lot of people. I beat the odds. I just took it one contract at a time.”"

In his 461 appearances for the Bucks, Johnson averaged 4.2 points on 51.1 percent shooting from the field (58.6 percent shooting from the free throw line), 6.6 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks across 22.4 minutes per game.