Ivan Johnson was playing in his 1st game for Tropang TNT after he served a 1-game suspension due to a fighting incident during a preseason scrimmage.
Johnson has a reputation for being hotheaded and quick-tempered. He was banned from the Korean Basketball League before and he had an altercation last year with RoS head coach Yeng Guiao where Ivan was fined P150,000.
So, why is his fiery history relevant today?
During the 1st half of the game between the Tropa and Meralco, Johnson was assessed a flagrant foul 1 for hitting Bryan Faundo with an elbow to the face. The incident happened at the 4:21 mark of the 2nd quarter with the score 26-25 in favor of Tropang TNT.
The 6-foot-8 forward was already slapped with a technical foul earlier in the 2nd quarter for second motion. In the PBA, a combination of a technical foul and a flagrant foul 1 merits an automatic ejection from the current game. Thus, it was just a matter of time before Johnson would be thrown out by the referees.
Now, the impending ejection for Johnson was not surprising but the situation got weirder because PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa went out of his seating area and appeared to approach Johnson before the import was ejected. The Commissioner apparently intended to calm Johnson down. I’m not sure what the Commissioner said or if he said anything to Johnson but the Tropa import was caught swearing at the PBA’s head official. That incident promptly led to the former Atlanta Hawk being fined P250, 000 plus a crippling lifetime ban from playing in the PBA.
So, what are the good points about banning Ivan Johnson for life in the PBA? Well, here are some ideas on that matter.
The Commissioner showed that he does not tolerate mischief and disrespecting a league official would warrant a severe punishment. The Commissioner made sure that future incidents similar to what Johnson did will be limited and prevented.
Maybe the Commissioner wanted to use Johnson as an example especially since Johnson was known to have a “bad boy” image and Johnson already walked out on a PBA meeting headed by Atty. Narvasa before the start of the current conference.
Another reason, the Commissioner wanted to protect the players of the PBA. An elbow to the face is very dangerous. Players who commit those type of fouls (intentional or not) should be held accountable and further complaining will not be allowed. Johnson is known for being very physical and throwing his elbows around isn’t new for him. No Johnson in the PBA, thus, less instances for face injuries.
Next, I think it’s also a possibility that the Commissioner wanted to improve the image of the league. The PBA is very physical and skirmishes often happen. Narvasa possibly wanted to “clean up” the dirty fouls and cheap shots being employed by imports and locals. A player might think twice before engaging in such acts.
On the other hand, are there any bad points for handing out a lifetime ban? Sure, there are.
First, other prospective and future imports might stay away from the PBA or reject offers from PBA teams because of how a lifetime ban was quickly given to Ivan Johnson.
Cursing the Commissioner has no place in the game of basketball but let us remember that he approached Johnson. Maybe, seeing the Commissioner at that moment provoked Johnson. I’m not defending the import, but I’m just wondering why the Commissioner entered the court and approached Johnson.
The Commissioner did a similar thing when Alaska and GlobalPort had a skirmish during the semifinals of the Philippine Cup. He went on the court and inserted himself in the fracas. I believe he tried to become a peacemaker but that job should have been left to the referees and team officials.
Next, how come no meeting or briefing was scheduled to evaluate and assess the situation first?
A lifetime ban is a very crucial and tough decision to hand out. This judgment will hurt the Tropa’s chances in the Commissioner’s Cup and this will strongly damage Johnson’s opportunity to make a living playing basketball.
A better solution was to give Johnson a chance to speak and defend or explain himself. If the Commissioner still felt that a lifetime ban was necessary after a meeting with Johnson, then so be it. At least Johnson’s side was heard because a lifetime ban is no laughing matter and all sides should be considered and evaluated.
This decision seems to be a very hasty (and emotional?) reaction by the Commissioner. Why not give the lifetime ban after a meeting with Tropang TNT officials and Johnson was conducted?
The decision to ban Johnson was given DURING the game between the Tropa and the Bolts. Now, isn’t that too harsh and too quick? A huge fine for swearing at the Commissioner would be acceptable but I don’t think Johnson threatened him nor physically assaulted anyone.
For comparison, former Petron import Renaldo Balkman was given a lifetime ban for choking and assaulting a teammate a couple of years ago.
Before that decision was handed, the Commissioner at that time, Atty. Chito Salud, had a meeting with Balkman to assess the incident. The lifetime ban was decided after that meeting and Comm. Salud explained his decision in a statement. I think the PBA’s office should do the same thing regarding Jonhson.
In the end, giving a lifetime ban is under the jurisdiction of the Commissioner and he can do as he feels and pleases. I do believe that he wants to do what is best for the league.
However, the lifetime ban given to Johnson was done without due process and the import should be given a chance to speak. Hopefully, the Commissioner will give Johnson an opportunity to air his side before the lifetime ban becomes final and permanent.
Since the Commissioner gave the lifetime ban, he can also lift it or temporarily suspend it right? — By Rolly Mendoza