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Former NBA player finding enjoyment helping son’s team at James Clemens

Alphonso “Buck” Johnson has had many years of a “heyday” in basketball. A high school All-State performer, All-SEC player in college and a 20-year professional career, including seven years in the NBA, Buck has lived what most consider a spectacular career in basketball.

Buck remains in the game as a volunteer coach for the James Clemens High boy’s varsity basketball program led by head coach Luther Tiggs.

“It’s sure fun for me. I love it. I still enjoy when I get a chance to get out there on the court and teach the young players on the team,” said Buck recently after assisting the Jets through the Huntsville Times Classic holiday tournament.

Buck, who turned 49 on Jan. 3rd, coaches the team that includes his son, Alfonso, Jr., a senior starting forward for the Jets. The younger Johnson is looking at possibly extending his playing days beyond high school by playing in college. He has had offers from schools close to home in Alabama and Tennessee and others from as far away as Connecticut.

“I think he (Alfonso, Jr.) needs an extra year, maybe a post-graduate year, to get bigger and stronger that way he’ll be ready for a four-year opportunity,” said Buck of his son’s current position in the game.

For the elder Johnson, just being near the game that has given his so much enjoyment and satisfaction is making being a parent a wonderful experience.

Buck won back-to-back state championships at Hayes High in Birmingham. He chose to play college basketball at the University of Alabama where he was an All-SEC performer from the Crimson Tide and became a first-round draft choice (20th overall) in the 1986 NBA Draft. He played seven NBA seasons, both with Houston and Washington, where he appeared in 505 games and scored over 4,600 points and grabbed over 1,700 rebounds before playing in overseas pro leagues and minor league basketball.

As for his son following in his footsteps, Buck wants his son to do his own thing. Buck said he’s happy his son is a good student and does well in school. He added, “I coach him on the court, but off the court and at home I try not to coach him as much. He could have a career in a lot of other things outside of sports and that’s what we’re excited about.”

The former NBA star currently owns an engineering service company with his wife. The business is located in Madison and handles software engineering services for the Army Space Program.

Buck also coaches his two other children (ages 12 and 15) playing in youth leagues in the Monrovia Recreation Leagues, so having the chance to actually pick up a basketball and shoot some hoops is rare. “Every now and then I might go out and play. Matter of fact, I recently went to Dublin Memorial Park and played,” said Buck. “I was sore for days.”