The Wolves Beat
See more of the story

At 33, James Johnson has been around the NBA block a few times, and he can tell when a player is a hard worker and when one is not. Or as Johnson calls it, “a fake gym rat.”

This was the quote after Wednesday’s 115-108 loss over the Bulls when Johnson revealed that term.
“Whenever you get comfortable with losing, you kind of lose your edge, your willingness to get better. I don’t think anybody is feeling that,” Johnson said. “Every day you see guys in films and pre-practice, just the little things that you can see that they want to get better. We keep that same work ethic. We don’t have no fake gym rats in here, we’ll be good.”

Johnson was then asked to elaborate on what a fake gym rat is.

“I don’t see any in here,” Johnson said. “It’s those guys that have a good game and then the next day they’ll be in the gym shooting. But if they have a bad game, you won’t see them. You might see them for the first two weeks, getting extra shots. And then you might not see them again. Those are the fake gym rats, man. It’s been consistent in here.”

Johnson has been a connecting force for the Wolves since arriving from Miami via Memphis at the trade deadline. He’s planned outings for the team off the court and he has been a talkative presence on the court and in huddles, something a young team like the Wolves needs.

“James has brought this group together a lot,” coach Ryan Saunders said. “There’s been a number of guys on this team that have done that. I think that’s translated to the court, translated to some confidence, even as guys try to figure it out.”