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In an unprecedented move not seen in the past 40 years of the PBA, league Commissioner Chito Narvasa yesterday lowered the sanctions on Tropang TNT import Ivan Johnson that gives the controversial reinforcement an opportunity to return here.
After initially imposing a lifetime ban against the 6-8 Johnson, Narvasa has now issued a rest of the season suspension on the former NBA player while the large fine of P250,000 has been reduced to P150,000.
The decision of Narvasa came a day after Johnson – upon his request – appeared together with his wife and two sons last Tuesday at the Commissioner’s Office in Libis, Quezon City.
“I just want to come in and show him that we met on bad terms,” said Johnson, a former Atlanta Hawk, following his meeting with the league chief. “We needed to learn about each other first. It only took a minute to learn about each other. He’s a good person.”
“Personally, I figured, I need to come here to show him what type of person I am. If you just look at me from the basketball side you’ll never know who I am because it’s two different people.”
“I’m a totally different person on the court and my passion for the game is way, way up here,” added Johnson.
An intimidating presence inside and outside the court, Johnson was assessed a lifetime ban by Narvasa following his outburst in a game against the Meralco Bolts last Saturday.
It started when Johnson was ejected from the game after he received his second technical foul for throwing an elbow on Meralco forward Bryan Faundo’s temple as the latter set a pick.
Johnson’s first technical foul was on an extended forearm that hit Kelly Nabong in the mouth. After he got his second T, Johnson turned his ire on Narvasa and hurled profanities to the commissioner.
Narvasa got up and was ready to confront the wide-bodied Johnson only to be restrained by league media bureau head Willie Marcial.
After meeting Johnson, Narvasa said he now understands the mercurial import.
“I think I feel the same way about Ivan. I told him we have a lot of similarities,” Narvasa said as he shares some laughter with Johnson. “One is I think, we always look like we’re angry.”