View Full Version : dennis johnson passes away at age 52

02-22-2007, 06:36 PM
Johnson, who was part of three NBA champions, two with the Boston Celtics (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=bos) and one with the Seattle SuperSonics (http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/clubhouse?team=sea), had been coaching the Austin Toros of the NBA Developmental League.

Remembering D.J.

NEW YORK, Feb. 22, 2007 -- Dennis Johnson, a three-time NBA champion as a member of the Seattle Supersonics and Boston Celtics and the head coach of the D-League's Austin Toros, passed away today from a heart attack. He was 52 years old.
During his 13-year playing career with Seattle, Phoenix and Boston, Johnson established himself as one of the best defensive guards in the league. "D.J." combined his bulk with rocket-launcher legs to frequently win battles against players nearly a foot taller.
His quick hands and feet made him a constant threat to strip the ball from opponents. He always seemed to be in the middle of the action. He could post up, crash the boards for rebounds and tip-ins, hit from the outside and lead the fast break. And he could pass with the best of the league's playmakers.
Johnson was named to five All-Star teams and nine straight All-Defensive Teams. He was a member of three NBA championship squads, and his postseason heroics earned him a reputation as a money player. He was imbued with a contagious competitiveness. "I'm a winner," he once said. "I put my heart into the game. I hate to lose. I accept it when it comes, but I still hate it. That's the way I am."
In 1978, Seattle squandered a three-games-to-two lead against the Washington Bullets, losing in seven games. The following year, they would not be denied.
Johnson improved his scoring to 15.9 points per game and made his first appearances on both the All-Star and All-Defensive teams. In a rematch against the Bullets in the 1979 NBA Finals, Seattle dropped the first contest but won the next four to claim the team's first championship. Johnson, who scored 32 points in a Game 4 overtime victory, was named Finals MVP.
Johnson would play one more season in Seattle before being sent to Phoenix for All-Star guard Paul Westphal. D.J. would make two consecutive All-Star appearances of his own for the Suns. In his first year in Phoenix, Johnson guided the Suns to a Pacific Division title over the Lakers.
Johnson was traded following the 1982-83 season to Boston, where he would win two more championships, including one as a member of the 1986 Celtics team many consider to be one of the best teams in NBA history.
Johnson's postseason heroics -- his shutting down of Magic Johnson in the 1984 Finals; his buzzer-beating jumper to win Game 4 in the 1985 Finals against the Lakers; and his game-winning basket off Larry Bird's steal in Game 5 of the 1987 conference finals against Detroit -- placed him among the best-loved Celtics. Johnson retired at age 35 after the 1989