Amir Johnson plays for Toronto, on and off the court
Raptors forward has unique connection with fans
The Raptors made the playoffs for the first time since 2008 this year, and a big part of the team's success on the court is power forward Amir Johnson.
Off the court, the 6'9" Johnson is winning over fans all across the city. As much as he's a fan favourite in Toronto, he's a fan of the city.
Johnson has made his presence known on the court in the playoffs. A stalwart on the team, he's been a Toronto Raptor for five seasons. It's his first time to the post-season with the team.
"I know the fans are excited but for the team, we're taking a more serious approach. We've got to lock in," said Johnson. "There's gonna be a lot of distractions outside with family and media, so we're just taking a serious approach locking in and taking care of business especially on our home court."
The Raptors have taken care of business all season, finishing first in the Atlantic Division earning the team its second Division Champion banner from the Air Canada Centre's rafters.
"I feel great especially getting a banner this season I feel like I have something accomplished in Toronto. I'll get to tell my kids I won that or I got that banner," said Johnson. "Like I said I'm ready, I'm ready to go. I'm excited. I'm not even a lot of talk. I just want to go out there and play and see what happens."
Intense on the court, but a different demeanour off the court.
"I'm always goofy making jokes," he said. "I feel like I have to make a joke, just to kinda break the ice a little bit. Now I've taken it to YouTube to show people my personality."
He's shown the city a side of professional athletes most don't see, organizing a zombie flash mob in the heart of downtown Toronto.
When his friend Drake released his latest album, Johnson bought an entire record store's supply to hand them out in the street to fans.
And just a couple weeks ago, he arranged a special gathering with fans at Medieval Times for one of his popular Roll With Amir fan nights.
"It's my personality," he explained. "I really do not like to sit around. When I first got here, I didn't really know anything about Toronto, but just going out meeting the people, seeing different stuff. I love to do that type of stuff, like I said, that's how I am."
And when Johnson says he gets out, he means every inch of the Greater Toronto Area.
"Down in Mississauga, all the way to Scarborough, Brampton — I've been everywhere. I've been all around.
And down at the barbershop, where players get their hair cut, the team has earned respect just by being themselves.
"They're really down to earth, like, meeting them is just like one of us you know," said Joshua Diamante of Throne Barbershop.
It's all helped make the Raptors the talk of the town during this playoff run.