Joe Johnson has a suggestion for anyone envious of his body: Yoga. And not just any yoga, the 6-foot-7, 240-pound Nets shooting guard prefers Bikram yoga, a 90-minute-long sweat-fest of 26 poses performed in repetition in 104-degree heat.
“It’s better than weight training or anything of that sort,” says Johnson, 32, who has played for five NBA teams since getting drafted by the Celtics as the 10th overall pick in 2001. “It’s therapy for my muscles.”
The result of that therapy is a long, lean body capable of a true shooting percentage of 56.4, which is what he averaged with the Nets during regular season in 2013-2014. Still, the clutch guard, known as “Joe Jesus” to his teammates (because he’s always there when you need him, of course), says he’s not entirely pleased with his body. “It could get better,” Johnson says. “I do whatever I can to challenge myself—try something different or go on different types of diets. But I definitely have room for improvement.” Here, Johnson talks about what he does to work out, why he likes sweet wine and the Barlays Center, and what he would say to those who argue that his $123.6-million six-year contract with the Nets is too high.
32 years old
Training grounds: New York City and Little Rock, Ark.
Nickname: Joe Jesus. “I got nothing to do with Joe Jesus. K.G. [Kevin Garnett] was the one who came up with it, and everyone just ran with it. He said the reason for it was because, ‘Joe might not come when you call him, but he’s always there when you need him.’”
Body fat: 5 percent.
Hours spent training per day: Up to five
Days spent training per week: Six
Hours spent in the weight room per week: 12
Go-to workout: Yoga. “It’s better than weight training or anything of that sort. It’s therapy for my muscles. It’s meditation, and it keeps me flexible. My muscles need that more than anything.”
Secret workout: Yoga. “If I have to say secret workout, things that other guys aren’t doing, I’d say yoga. I don’t know any other guys on the team doing it.”
Biggest physical challenge: Staying mentally prepared. “I think it’s more wear and tear on your body, traveling all the time and having to get home at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, and then be back at the training facility at 9 or 10 the next day. But those are mental challenges, too, and you have to be prepared for them.”
Best recovery tip: Ice tubs and massage. “For me, those are the two biggest components of recovery.”
Calories consumed per day: “I have no idea.”
Favorite pre-game meal: Salmon and broccoli. “I try to eat light about three hours before game time.”
Typical recovery meal: “I really don’t have one. I’m pretty much a fish and chicken type of guy. I’m not really into red meat. I try to keep it lean and not pig out.”
Celebration meal: Mama B’s burgers and fries. “I go back to what I used to eat a long time ago: burgers and fries. We have a place back home [in Little Rock] called Mama B’s, and they make these humungous burgers. I still treat myself from time to time.”
Biggest dietary vice: Lay’s barbecue potato chips. “Potato chips are my kryptonite. If they’re around, I have to have them.”
Alcohol of choice: Moscato wine. “I’m more of a Moscato type of guy. It’s sweet and doesn’t even taste like it has alcohol in it. I think that’s why I like it so much. I drink it like it’s Kool-Aid.”
What he thinks about his body: “It could get better. I do whatever I can to challenge myself—try something different or go on different types of diet. But I definitely have room for improvement. It’s the little things.”
What he would say to those who argue that he’s overpaid: “I’ve heard it over the years, and it doesn’t bother me. I know the work and dedication I’ve put into this game, and I’ve been rewarded for it. And I’m going to keep working hard.”
What it’s like to play in New York: “It’s been an adjustment coming from the South to live the big city. But I’ve managed to adjust. The fans in Brooklyn have been great, and I’ve loved it since Day One being part of a new franchise.”
His favorite part of New York City: Barclays Center. “It has a unique shape. It’s the best arena I’ve been in in my 13 years in the NBA. That’s really been exciting.”