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Larry Johnson (LJ) – AKA Grandmama Bio – UNLV Runnin’ Rebels Basketball Star Player

Larry Johnson is known to many people as the intimidating basketball player who led a competitive Charlotte Hornets NBA franchise as a forward in the 1990s. Other people may know his name better because of the tough-guy personality he appeared in. notable shoe commercials as the alter ego Grandmama (Johnson dressed as an elderly woman with exceptional basketball and athletic skills). Finally, a specific niche of now young adults who were the age of the target market when the movie Space Jam (starring Michael Jordan opposite Bugs Bunny) was released in 1996 best associate it with a hodgepodge of NBA players who mysteriously lost their basketball powers at the hands of cartoon aliens. . In addition to Larry Johnson, the motley crew of NBA players whose basketball skills were fictionally removed by aliens included Charles Barkley, Shawn Bradley, Patrick Ewing, and Mugsy Bogus.

Long before the movie Spam Jam came out or Grandmama was selling shoes, Johnson was making his mark with the Runnin’ Rebels at the University of Nevada – Las Vegas (UNLV), where he led the team to its only national basketball championship. from the NCAA in 1990. Larry Johnson, also commonly known as LJ, didn’t join UNLV’s Runnin’ Rebels basketball team right out of high school and instead began his college career at Odessa College. . After playing one season (1988-1989) with high school in Odessa, Texas, LJ moved to Las Vegas and joined the Runnin’ Rebels, where he made an immediate impact.

While playing for coach Jerry Tarkanian at UNLV, Johnson had the advantage of playing with two other future NBA players: Greg Anthony and Stacey Augmon (who had the curious nickname “plastic man” as a result of his unique ability to stretch). The 1990 March Madness that the Rebels team made for the Final Four ended with a matchup against the high-profile Duke Blue Devils. In a championship game that the media touted as a showdown between contrasting styles of play, Christian Laettner’s Duke University team was described as fundamentally sound and disciplined, while Larry Johnson’s UNLV team it was labeled as an athletic team that had a more physical aspect. street ball style of play. Ultimately, in what was expected to be an all-ages competitive game, the UNLV Rebels took the championship 103-73 in a game in which the Las Vegas team set NCAA records for the most points and the largest margin of victory in a championship game. Larry Johnson had 22 points and 11 rebounds in a contest that was largely decided long before the final buzzer.

Larry Johnson’s team would go undefeated in the regular season the following year with a 27-0 record before being defeated in the Final Four by the Duke Blue Devils, who would go on to win successive national championships after being dismantled by the Runnin’ Rebels in the first of three consecutive trips to the championship game.

Larry Johnson was named First Team All-American in each of his two seasons at UNLV and even won the coveted Naismith College Player of the Year award after the 1990-1991 season. Interestingly, roughly twenty years later, LJ still ranks 7th all-time in rebounding and 12th all-time in scoring, even though he only played two years and his numbers compare to many star players who posted impressive stats. during the four years of your eligibility. In recognition of his efforts, UNLV retired his number four jersey.

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