The veteran guard underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair meniscus damage in her left knee
Fever coach Pokey Chatman has been telling her team all season, “It’s going to take all of us.”
She’s certainly going to keep saying that, as the team announced on August 14 that Shenise Johnson will miss the remainder of the season due to a knee injury.
She underwent surgery on August 14.
Johnson’s injury was not something that happened in one moment. She’s been experiencing pain in her left knee recently. When the pain became too intense, Chatman said Johnson decided it was time to have the surgery.
Chatman said this injury is related to the left knee sprain that Johnson suffered when she slipped during practice on May 30. Johnson missed six games after that.
The team expects her back for the 2020 season.
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After practice on August 14, Chatman talked about the message she’s had for her team now that they will be without one of their veteran leaders.
“We were very specific when we talked to the team about (Johnson) not being here,” Chatman said. “(We told our players that) we don’t want you to step outside of yourself, we want you to step up and be yourself.”
Johnson was traded to Indiana before the 2015 season and played a big role in helping the Fever make it to the 2015 WNBA Finals, averaging 12.4 points per game in the playoffs. After averaging 9.8 points during the 2016 season, Johnson tore her ACL in July 2017. She missed the remainder of the 2017 season and all of 2018 while she rehabbed her knee.
The Fever were thrilled to have her back in 2019, but Johnson’s comeback was interrupted when she sprained her knee on May 30 after the first two games of the season.
After returning on June 21 against Chicago, Johnson played 14 of the next 15 games off the bench. She averaged 4.9 points per game this season.
Johnson’s teammates will miss her veteran leadership and energy she brought off the bench. She was instrumental in the Fever’s win over Minnesota on August 3, where the Fever’s reserves helped the team overcome a 20-point deficit to win. Johnson had 12 points and 3 assists in the Fever’s largest regular-season comeback in franchise history.
It’s possible that rookie reserves Kennedy Burke and Paris Kea will see more playing time with Johnson out. Chatman’s top three backcourt options this season have been Erica Wheeler, Kelsey Mitchell, and Tiffany Mitchell. Johnson usually entered the game late in the first quarter or early in the second quarter. If Johnson was playing well, Chatman left her in for extended minutes in the second half, as she did in the Minnesota game.
Burke, a 6’1 guard who can play multiple positions, has averaged 3.2 points and 8.7 minutes in 22 games. Kea, a 5’9 point guard, has averaged 3.0 points and 4.9 minutes while appearing in seven games.
Kea said Johnson has been extremely helpful during her first WNBA season. The former North Carolina star will miss Johnson’s advice and the “juice” (energy) she brings to the team.
“Her words are just so amazing when she talks to you,” Kea said. “You’re just all ears. I’m going to miss her because she’s always in my ears, just telling me ‘Keep your confidence!’ or ‘You’ve got it!’ Just hearing her voice makes you want to play at a higher level. It makes you want to give more. She makes you want to believe in yourself.”
The Fever have nine games left this season. At 9-16, they sit in ninth place in the standings and are three games back of Phoenix for the 8th and final playoff spot.
Johnson was the fifth overall pick by San Antonio in the 2012 draft. She played her first three WNBA seasons in San Antonio.
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