Juggling the challenges of pro basketball

It’s an exciting period to be from Westmoreland County and even more so to be one of the six stellar athletes all of which whom are related to each other making it so.

Just ask Joe Posey, one of the oldest among the six cousins playing professional or collegiate sports. Recently coming from playing basketball in Peru and Canada he plans to watch his cousin and Baltimore Ravens’ wide receiver Torrey Smith become the second person in his family play in the Super Bowl this Sunday. The first was the oldest cousin, back-to-back pro-bowler and New Orleans Saints’ starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod.

James Posey uses his experiences to help his brother and fellow cousins on their basketball careers. (Photo provided by Rod Stears)

“It’s sometimes surreal when you think about it, because up until Jermon everyone you watched in the Super Bowl has always been somebody you didn’t know or someone you watched,” said Posey.

Posey said he would like to see Smith and his teammates win the Super Bowl over the San Francisco 49ers. He even believes Smith could be the game’s MVP.

Joining those three also include his brother Chris Johnson, a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves; Tristan Carey, collegiate basketball player at Longwood University; and the youngest Justin Anderson, a collegiate basketball player at the University of Virginia.

While Posey is close to age with Bushrod and Smith, he has become a “go-to-guy” for his brother and the two youngest cousins.

Yet while it all looks glamorous from the outside looking in, Posey said it takes a lot of hard work to reach the points they have thus far, both on and off the court.

“If I was where I am mentally now, I think my career would have been a whole lot different,” Posey said.

Playing basketball has come natural to Posey, but with his own mistakes and growing pains on the collegiate level, he made an unlikeable reputation for himself.

“Once you paint a picture in somebody’s head of their first impression, it’s hard to change it.” Posey said. “And if someone hasn’t got a chance to meet you, they only go by what they hear or what’s being told to them.”

“I know how it feels to be defined by what you do. I understand first hand that hurts when you feel like you’ve failed to certain point,” Posey added. “I don’t want to see them [cousins] go through the same things that I had to whether its injuries or suspensions…

it only makes it harder, it’s already hard enough without it and you don’t need anything extra.”

Posey said he thinks everyone knows that bit of advice.

After leaving James Madison University, Posey played his final season at Southern Polytechnic State University, he has been on a mission to prove the naysayers wrong.

Along with his brother, the two worked out across the nation, most notably in the summer of 2010, and overseas to generate a buzz about what they could offer as basketball players.

In order to continue their hope of playing in the NBA, the two have joined overseas teams or NBA development league.

In comparison of the two, Johnson has played for four NBA teams including the Boston Celtics, Portland Trailblazers, New Orleans Hornets and the Timberwolves. Posey has played for none.

Posey said he is not at all jealous of his brother’s success, but instead proud of him.

“Our relationship is just the same as if we were 13 years old…but at the same time when it comes to basketball we take it serious and go to work,” Posey said. “But we’re extremely close.”

Posey said he believes out of the two, if someone would’ve gone to the NBA, it would have been him.

“To be near seven-feet tall and that athletic is something you can’t teach,” Posey said.

Posey said he hasn’t necessarily closed the door on playing basketball. He hopes to drop some weight, use his knowledge of the game and take advantage of advice from former pro basketball player Hersey Hawkins.

“I’m going to take it as far as I can for as long as I can right now while I still can get better,” Posey said. “I get an opportunity to do what I like to do it. I’m happy. I fell so long as your doing something that you love and have a passion for it, it’s really not work.”

Since finishing his last year of school at Southern Polytechnic State University majoring in Kinesiology, Posey has served as a paraprofessional at King George Middle School and coaching basketball. He hopes to return back to basketball playing soon. Posey is also the father of his one-year-old daughter Mikaelya.

Editor’s note: This story is part one of two exploring the challenges of professional basketball for brothers James Posey and Chris Johnson.

Posted on Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 12:28 pm