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Larry Johnson    

Former NBA Player for the Charlotte Hornets & the New York Knicks

Larry Johnson was selected first overall in the 1991 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets and won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in his first season. He also competed in the 1992 Slam Dunk Contest at the NBA All-Star Weekend in Orlando, finishing second to Cedric Ceballos of the Phoenix Suns. In 1993, Johnson was voted to start in that year's All-Star Game, making him the first Hornet in franchise history to receive that honor; he enjoyed his best statistical season with averages of 22.1 points per game and 10.5 rebounds per game in 82 games, which earned him All-NBA second team honors. Along with Alonzo Mourning, Muggsy Bogues and Dell Curry, Johnson played with the Hornets at the height of their popularity in the early and mid-1990s. During this time, Johnson, who went by his initialism "LJ" and the nickname "Grandmama" (because of a popular series of commercials for Converse, who signed Johnson to an endorsement contract following his entry into the NBA), was featured on the cover of the premiere issue of SLAM Magazine.

In October 1993, Johnson signed what was at the time the most lucrative contract in NBA history, a 12-year, $84 million deal with the Hornets. During the summer he played for the U.S. national team (nicknamed Dream Team II) in the 1994 FIBA World Championship, winning the gold medal. In the 1994–95 season, he made 81 three-pointers, nearly 60 more than in his first three years combined, and was selected to the 1995 NBA All-Star Game.

With the New York Knicks, Johnson was a key member of their 1999 Eastern Conference championship team. However, on October 10, 2001, Johnson announced his early retirement from basketball due to chronic back problems that had plagued him for several years, after his point production had decreased for three straight years.

In July 2007, Johnson expressed interest in making a comeback with the Knicks in some type of "leadership role." On December 21, 2007, Johnson received a bachelor of arts degree in social science studies from UNLV. He was hired by the Knicks as a basketball and business operations representative on April 8, 2012. He will focus on player development and be involved in business initiatives.

Johnson converted to Islam. During the NBA season, he observed Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.

In 1993, Johnson appeared on the sitcom "Family Matters" as his alter ego "Grandmama," who becomes Steve Urkel's teammate in a basketball tournament. Later that year he was a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman. Three years later he appeared as himself in the movies "Eddie" and "Space Jam"; in the latter he had a supporting role as a fictionalized version of himself. He was one of the NBA stars who had their basketball abilities stolen alongside Muggsy Bogues, Shawn Bradley, Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing.


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