MANILA, Philippines – Banned Tropang TNT import Ivan Johnson asked for forgiveness Sunday, February 14 from PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa for his behavior Saturday afternoon, February 13, in his first game of the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“I do want to sincerely and most humbly apologize to Commissioner Narvasa for my actions in last night’s game. I ask that you forgive me,” the 31-year-old Johnson said in a statement via his Facebook and Twitter accounts.
“I am truly sorry for the role I played in the events of last night’s game and the devastation and disappointment I have caused all of you.”
The American import, who was banned for life from the league and ordered to pay a Php 250,000-fine for cursing at the commissioner, was not as solemn nor apologetic in the immediate aftermath of his ban Saturday.
Johnson, who was also previously banned from the Korean Basketball League in 2010 for flicking off a referee, posted a couple of tweets questioning the commissioner’s decision saying, “The devil is working overtime.”
“The fines that I’ve gotten have never been issued out to anybody. What’s the hate against me?” he added.
PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial relayed Johnson spoke the words “f*ck you” as he was looking away from Narvasa as he complained at the officials’ table. Narvasa promptly rose to his feet, pointed a finger at the player and had to be restrained by Marcial.
TNT slammed the PBA’s decision and questioned the lack of due process. It took one hour and 13 minutes from the time Johnson was ejected to the time the PBA officially announced his lifetime ban.
“Why ban a player for life without due process? We are talking about careers being affected and for life,” team manager Virgil Villavicencio read a text message from one of TNT’s executives, but did not reveal who it was from.
Johnson was ejected with 4:21 to go before halftime after incurring his second technical foul plus a flagrant foul penalty 1.
The former Atlanta Hawk was whistled for his first technical at the 9:02 mark of the second period for second motion on Kelly Nabong. His flagrant foul came from elbowing Bryan Faundo on the face, and his second tech was for his encounter with the commissioner. (READ: PBA players speak out on Johnson's lifetime ban on Twitter)
The ban was a bitter culmination to the ill-tempered Johnson’s infamous PBA career that saw him involved in a string of scuffles and commotions, which rapidly solidified his notorious “bad boy” reputation.
Johnson got fined P50,000 last season for bumping Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao in the Commissioner’s Cup finals. He also had another altercation with then Painters guard Ryan Araña at an arena parking lot. (READ: Guiao on banned Johnson: 'He's a world-class a*shole')
Old foe Marc Pingris, who almost had a scuffle with the import last year, even recalled an incident during the official height measurement where he said Johnson declared, “I'm here to play basketball” to the coaches before walking away. (READ: Old nemesis Pingris did not expect Johnson's ban)
The last import to be banned from the league was Renaldo Balkman, for choking Arwind Santos in the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup.
Read Johnson's full statement below.