Monday, February 26, 2007

RIP Dennis Johnson 1954-2007

I’m a little late on this, but last week Dennis Johnson, one of my favorite basketball players from my early childhood, passed away. Johnson was the point guard for the Celtics teams of the 80’s that I still revere. 2 things always stood out to me about Johnson 1) In my opinion he is the single most unappreciated NBA player ever and 2) his stats didn’t exactly bowl you over, 14 points, 5 assists, and 3 rebounds a game for his career, but he always seemed to come up with a big play when his team needed it the most.
Probably the best example of both of these points is this play, Larry Bird’s famous steal against the Pistons in the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals. While Larry certainly deserves the credit for his miraculous steal this play would have been nothing without DJ’s great instincts in cutting to the hole. Watch the clip a few times and you’ll notice DJ watching Bird as he makes his move, almost anticipating that something is about to happen. That sums up DJ’s career, on the business end of one of the greatest plays in NBA history, but yet somewhat overlooked by the fact that everyone almost exclusively associates the greatness of that play to Bird.
Speaking of Larry, I’ll finish this post with a quote (from DJ’s great bio on on what Larry thought about Dennis Johnson;
“Larry Bird, who was not known for lightly tossing around compliments, called Johnson ‘the best I've ever played with.’”

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