Before he lost nearly 40 pounds, reignited his playing career and put himself in position for a big pay day this coming July, James Johnson found himself shirtless, embarrassed and a bit confused standing in front of the camera lens of an iPad inside the Heat’s training facility last summer.
「It was weird to me – really weird to me,」 said Johnson, a former first round pick of Chicago back in 2009, who in his first seven years in the league with the Bulls, Raptors, Kings, Grizzlies and Hawks had never been asked by the team’s strength and conditioning coaches to pose shirtless for a photo.
「I thought I was going to be the only [player to do it] because I came in something huge… But then I ran through their iPad. It was like a magazine, a list of their accomplishments with other players and I saw it with my own eyes. And from what I saw on that iPad, I wanted to change myself.」
Johnson今年已經30歲了，他翻閱的那個iPad是熱火隊訓練師Bill Foran和Eric Foran這對父子的，在相簿裡，他看到了一張張前熱火隊球員的訓練前後對比圖，那些人都經歷過Foran父子的高強度訓練，並且在那之後他們的體型變得更加完美，有了更強的運動能力，達到了Erik Spoelstra和Pat Riley嚴苛的要求。
As Johnson, 30, flipped through Bill and Eric Foran’s iPad, he saw before and after photos of dozens and dozens of former Heat players, who all went through the Foran’s intense workouts and transformed their bodies into finely tuned, fit, athletic machines to survive the demands of coach Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley before him.
在所有那些照片中，令James Johnson印象最深的要數Joe Johnson。現年35歲的Joe Johnson打過7屆全明星，他在去年二月底加盟熱火隊，並且成為幫助熱火殺進東區準決賽的重要成員。
Of all the photos that stood out, Johnson said, it was that of seven-time All-Star and former Heat guard Joe Johnson, 35, who joined the team in late February of last season and was part of the Heat’s run to within a victory of the Eastern Conference Finals, which made the biggest impression on him.
「That’s because he came in with the Miami Heat so late and was still able to change his body like that,」 James Johnson said. 「It has a lot to do with the player, but all the compliments and all the rewards should go to the Forans.」
As the Heat (30-34) head toward the back stretch of the season as winners of 19 of its last 23 games, one overriding sentiment from the players who joined the team in the past year is how they all feel as though they are in the best shape of their playing careers.
和Johnson一樣，Dion Waiters、Wayne Ellington和Willie Reed都表示他們在加盟熱火隊之後，體脂水平得到了精心的調整。
Dion Waiters, Wayne Ellington, Willie Reed and Johnson have all remarked how they’ve each trimmed their body fat levels considerably since joining the Heat.
「那太神奇了，」Reed在二月早些時候說，「你可以看得出來這些變化。有時候你可能意識不到這一點，因為你感覺你還沒有做到自己所能做的一切，但當教練把影片拿給你看的時候，你會聽到有人說‘嘿，你變得更好了’，從那時候，你才開始更深地意識到這件事。這是Foran父子和教練團貢獻的一點證明，也是我的私人訓練師Drew Hanlen和Stan Remy工作的成果，他們幫助我變得更有攻擊性。當我變得更強壯，更加適應這個聯盟，我會在我現在所做的基礎上更上一個臺階。」
「It’s amazing,」 Reed said in early February. 「You see a transformation. Sometimes you can’t see it because you feel like you aren’t doing as much as you can, but when coaches show you film and you have people saying ‘Hey you’re getting better’ you start to understand it a little bit more. It’s just a testament to the Forans and coaching staff. It’s a testament to [personal trainers] Drew Hanlen and Stan Remy as well to help me become better offensively. The stronger I get, the more conditioned I get, I know I’ll be able to do what I’m doing now at a higher level.」
Johnson, though, could be the most amazing transformation yet for the Forans.
Although he missed Monday’s win in Cleveland because of an elbow injury and remains questionable for Wednesday’s game at home against Charlotte, Johnson is averaging career-highs of 12.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and shooting a career-best 34 percent from three-point range this season. Before he came to Miami, he averaged 6.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists and was a career 26.6 percent shooter from three-point range.
And it’s not like he wasn’t athletic before. When Johnson came into the league he was a second degree black belt and former mixed martial arts fighter who could do a standing back flip and roundhouse kick a basketball wedged at the rim (he claims he last did that two summers ago in Toronto).
Still, when Johnson signed with the Heat last July, he was nowhere near the physical specimen he’s become today.
Last Wednesday, before the Heat crushed the Sixers and Johnson scored 14 points in the win, the Forans left another set of before and after photos of Johnson at his locker. On the left was the pudgy, 274-pound guy with 14.5 percent body fat who signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Heat. On the right was the photo of a chiseled, six-pack sporting Johnson from earlier in the afternoon.
「One of my happiest moments,」 Johnson said last Friday in Orlando when he was asked about the set of photos. 「And I’m not finished. I’m 238 [pounds] right now and 6.75 [percent body fat]. So, I’m just going to keep going, see how far it takes me. I feel like that the more I lose the more I unleash skills that I didn’t think I was capable of having or doing.」
Johnson said the physical changes to his body with the Heat have allowed him to 「do more things agility wise. I can move, cut through smaller spaces. And definitely give more effort out there in the game. I can go from 100 [percent] effort to 150 now.」
In order to maintain what he’s accomplished, Johnson said he’s stopped dining out at restaurants and is strictly eating home cooked meals. He also said he’s lifting weights every day. This summer, Johnson said, he’s not planning to leave the Foran’s side.
「This culture is real,」 Johnson said. 「Not only that, you know the kind of practices we have. We have those kind of practices where you can’t go out and hang out all night and think you’re going to be able to come to practice and really go hard. Because I’ll call you out, everybody on this team will call you out. We won’t leave it to the coaches to call you out. We take care of that ourselves. That’s the inside of the locker room.」
Inside his own locker, meanwhile, Johnson said he will continue to hang those before and after photos he gets from the Forans. He got one after he trimmed his body fat percentage to 10 percent, another one at 8 percent and then a new one last Wednesday.
「It’s not just motivation, but to see how far you came,」 Johnson said.
「The first time I got one, I wasn’t even where I’m at now, and I even had to call my old lady and say, ‘Yo, I’m sorry you had to be with this guy. I didn’t know it was that bad.’ She was at the pool with me and I’m thinking I’m good. But they were really just staring at her the whole time, I guess. It’s just good motivation and it’s a good reminder not to go back.」