By his very nature, Joe Johnson is a boring guy. It’s almost like when his parents named him one of the most default names possible, they were dooming him to a life of playing for four seeds and never smiling when he hits shots that would make every other player in the league at least fist pump. I mean, he’s such a blah kind of fellow, that when the Nets acquired him, they immediately changed to black-and-white uniforms. I refuse to believe this was coincidence.

But here is something that is interesting about Joe Johnson. So interesting, in fact, that you might not even believe it’s real. From Sporting Life Arkansas:

For Yonsan Johnson, formerly Yonsan Uranus, ne Zhu Yan-Qing (like many people in China, Yonson has adopted a more English-sounding name), the inciting event came in the form of the cover of an issue of Dime magazine he found in his military barracks in 2009—he looked down and saw the eyes of a resolute, dignified foreign warrior peering out at him.

The eyes belonged to Joe Johnson, then a forward for the Atlanta Hawks and an eight-year veteran of the NBA. Inside the magazine, Yonsan read about Johnson’s great love for the single mother who’d raised him, his quiet manner on the court, and how he’d rather stay home and play videos games than go clubbing. In Johnson, he had found a hero, someone who seemed to embody his country’s ancient ideals of patience, strength, and respect toward elders. Johnson became not only Yonsan’s favorite player, but a 6-foot-8, 240-pound prism through which he learned about American culture. Not long after he saw Johnson’s image, he founded the Chinese Joe Johnson Fan Club.

By day, Yonsan is an electrical engineer who ekes out the equivalent of $2,400 a year in a factory in northern China. By night, though, as founder of the JJFC, he manages the Joe Johnson Chinese Baidu Tiebar, which he describes as a forum that has 497 members. In this role he has accumulated and edited what is likely the world’s largest cache of Joe Johnson-related pictures and videos. His life’s dream is to one day speak to Johnson directly.

But wait, there’s more. These are emails from Yonsan Johnson to Evin Demeril, the author of the piece.

August 1
As you know I put URANUS in my last name.
yes, my english name is YONSAN URANUS.
one of them told me I should change the last name.he asked me to look up the meaning of URANUS… i know it is a star in the space.
it doesn’t mean anything. it just a designation.
in China, Uranus means: the great, the respectful… All the description are good..
So,can you tell me whats wrong with URANUS in your world? thank you.

August 6
… I found the reason… URANUS has another meaning”your butt”, so the man told
me to make a change… I really didn’t know this meaning… a little conplicated…
So, I think Johnson might suit for me,
it is a good name, and also show my great respect to Joe Johnson…

So not only does this guy love Joe Johnson enough to start up a fan club specifically “to let more people to know about Joe Johnson,” but he also changed his name to the sublime Yonsan Johnson in order to “show [his] great respect to Joe Johnson.” I’m not sure which of these is the greatest honor of all-time, but I’m sure one of them has to be.

It’s just so weird that this is all for Joe Johnson and not Kobe Bryant, LeBron James or Tracy McGrady, who are all huge stars in China (though I am assuming those clubs exist too). Some people just appreciate an emotionless player always swishing impossible shots more than other people do. And those people, apparently, then start collecting all kind of pictures, videos and jerseys — even if it costs them months of saving their income — once they’ve decided on a favorite player. Who knew? There’s something out there for everybody, I guess.

(via Reddit)