The last time the Johnson brothers, Frank and Eddie, played basketball against each other was in Florida nine years ago when both were in high school. It was a three-on-three pickup game.
"Eddie was the offensive player and my thing was defense," said Frank. "The games were to 11 and if I could hold Eddie to nine or 10, my team would usually win. But if you eased up, Eddie could score all the points by himself. Things haven't changed much since, I guess."
The Johnson & Johnson rematch materializes this afternoon at Capital Centre at 1:05, and it won't be three on three. Eddie now is a starting guard and an all-star for the Atlanta Hawks and Frank, a Bullet rookie, also starts at guard.
The Johnson brothers won't be matched against each other, however, because Frank will guard Wes Matthews or Rory Sparrow, leaving Kevin Grevey to match up against Eddie.
"I'm sure there will be times when we will be going head to head, though," said Frank. "It'll be interesting."
Today's game also will be a special occasion for their parents, Edward Sr. and Mary Johnson of Gainesville, Fla. They flew up for the game and it will be the first time they have seen their sons on the same court.
This also was the first time Edward Johnson had been on an airplane and the first time Mary Johnson had seen snow. "I never thought my dad would get on an airplane," said Frank Johnson, "and he didn't, either. My mother had to really talk him into it. I know this means a lot to both of my parents, but I don't think I'll be any more psyched up than usual."
Mary Johnson flew to Atlanta to see Frank play against the Hawks in November, but Eddie, 26, was on the suspended list at the time and wasn't in uniform. He sat at courtside with his mother, however, and had some pangs as he watched his little brother Frank (23) perform.
"Frank always was a steady, smart player," Eddie said. "He just has to remember to do the things he can do. I'm really looking forward to this game."
The Johnsons are one of six pairs of brothers in the National Basketball Association. The others are Charles and Dudley Bradley of Boston and Phoenix; John and Leon Douglas of San Diego and Kansas City; Caldwell and Major Jones of Philadelphia and Houston; Albert and Bernard King of New Jersey and Golden State and Gus and Ray Williams of Seattle and New Jersey.
The styles of the Johnson brothers are not similar. Eddie is always looking at the basket. He will penetrate, come off picks or work one on one for his shot. He looks to score first.
Frank is a classic point guard, who many feel is in the same class with Detroit Piston rookie Isiah Thomas. Frank's strengths are defense, the ability to get the ball to the right people and a pull-up jump shot. Eddie tends to free lance. Frank stays in the confines of Coach Gene Shue's offense.
The Bullets have won four of their last five games and have improved to 17-19. Atlanta (17-17) is coming off a 96-90 victory over the 76ers in Philadelphia Friday night.