Dennis Johnson Dead at 52
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  1. #1
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    Default Dennis Johnson Dead at 52

    Wow, I just read this and it brought back the memorable Laker/Celtic matchups of the 80's. He wasn't a real spectacular player, but he could come up with big plays at the right time.

    AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Dennis Johnson, the star NBA guard who was part of three championships and teamed with Larry Bird on one of the great postseason plays, died Thursday, collapsing after his developmental team's practice. He was 52.

    Johnson, coach of the Austin Toros, was unconscious and in cardiac arrest when paramedics arrived at Austin Convention Center, said Warren Hassinger, spokesman for Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services.

    Paramedics tried to resuscitate him for 23 minutes before he was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead, Hassinger added. Mayra Freeman, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office, said there will be an autopsy.

    The Toros postponed home games Friday and Saturday nights, the NBA Development League said.

    "He was one of the most underrated players in the history of the game, in my opinion, and one of the greatest Celtic acquisitions of all time," said former Boston teammate Danny Ainge, now the Celtics' executive director of basketball operations.

    "D.J. was a free spirit and a fun personality who loved to laugh and play the game. We had spoken at length just the other night about basketball and his excitement about coaching the Austin Toros. "

    Toros spokeswoman Perri Travillion said she was talking with Johnson on the sidewalk outside the building when he collapsed. Johnson was joking about getting a parking ticket.

    "We were laughing," she said. "He just collapsed."

    Travillion said she called 911 and that Johnson never regained consciousness. She said Johnson did not appear to have overexerted himself at practice and didn't complain of any discomfort before he collapsed.

    Johnson, a five-time All-Star and one of the top defensive guards, was part of the last Boston dynasty. He spent 14 seasons in the league and retired after the 1989-90 season. He played on title teams with the Celtics in 1984 and 1986 and with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1979, when he was the NBA finals MVP.

    "Whether he was leading his teams to NBA championships or teaching young men the meaning of professionalism, Dennis Johnson's contributions to the game went far beyond the basketball court," NBA commissioner David Stern said. "Dennis was a man of extraordinary character with a tremendous passion for the game."

    Johnson was a favorite teammate of Bird's, and the two were part of one of the most memorable plays in Celtics history.

    During the fifth game of the 1987 Eastern Conference finals against Detroit, Bird stole Isiah Thomas' inbounds pass under Boston's basket and fed Johnson, who drove in for the winning layup. Boston won the series in seven games but lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals.

    "Dennis was a great player, one of the best teammates I ever had, and a wonderful person," said Bird, now president of the Indiana Pacers. "My thoughts and condolences are with his family at this difficult time."

    Phoenix Suns guard Dennis Johnson (24) takes to the air to score stow against the Houston Rockets in this March 17, 1982 file photo in Houston. Johnson, the star NBA guard who was part of three championship teams, died Thursday after collapsing at the end of practice in Austin, Texas. He was 52. Johnson, coach of the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League, died at a hospital, D-League spokesman Kent Partridge said.

    Bill Laimbeer, the center on that Pistons team, remembered Johnson as a "great player on a great ballclub."

    "He played with passion and grit," Laimbeer said. "It was fun to play games like that. You always enjoyed it. It made for not only great games, but great entertainment."

    In the 1984 finals, Johnson guarded Magic Johnson effectively in the last four games. In 1985, he hit a last-second jumper against Los Angeles that won the fourth game. In 1986, he was part of a team that featured four Hall of Famers -- Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish and Bill Walton.

    "He was truly one of the good guys to play in the NBA, and he was a great teammate who was fun to be around," McHale said.

    Johnson had a reputation for delivering in big games.

    "I hate to lose," he once said. "I accept it when it comes, but I still hate it. That's the way I am."

    He averaged 14.1 points and 5.0 assists for his career. When he retired, he was the 11th player in NBA history to total 15,000 points and 5,000 assists. Johnson made one all-NBA first team and one second team. Six times he made the all-defensive first team, including five consecutive seasons (1979-83).

    "As far as a person, he was a great competitor," Sonics teammate Jack Sikma said. "He wouldn't let things pass. He would cause some friction if he felt strongly about something, but with our team that was a good thing."

    Johnson was born Sept. 18, 1954, in Compton, Calif. He played at Pepperdine and was drafted by Seattle in 1976. Johnson was traded to Phoenix in 1980 and Boston in 1983.

    He is survived by his wife, Donna, sons Dwayne and Daniel, and a daughter, Denise.
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  2. #2
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    Real good guy. It's just a shame. R.I.P. Dennis.

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  3. #3
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    R.I.P DJ one of my favs from the glory years

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    RIP
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    Only the good die young... R.I.P.

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    D.J. was the MAN! Didn't get enuff cred. One of my faves as a kid. This sucks.

    RIP brotha man!
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  7. #7
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    I definitely was born at the wrong time to be a celtics fan. I was born in 85 so I missed them ever being any good. I was hardcore when I was like 4 or 5. I remember being able to name all the retired numbers for the Celtics. My dad would show me and twin brother off. But I couldn't name you all the retired numbers anymore. Maybe a good portion of them but not all. and now if I watch the NBA it's to watch the celtics but I don't watch the NBA a lot mainly because their never on TV because they aren't any good.

    But I digress. I never got to watch this man in action. And what a shame. RIP, DJ.

    What a horrible year for the Celtics. First Red dies, then the Celtics lose 18 straight (and start a new streak after that win), and then DJ dies. it can only go up.

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    What a bummer. DJ was part of the Sonics team that won it all in 1979.
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    "Underrated" is the perfect word to describe him.
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    Default Dennis Johnson

    In 1986 I got to see the Celtics in Boston Garden, 9th row off the floor. I also am lucky enough to have a shirt signed by DJ. Those were the days when they would play one playoff game in Losa Angelos, and then play in Boston the very next night. In between that amount of time, DJ took the time to go to his daughters school play. RIP DJ, they dont make them like you anymore>
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    I remember feeling so happy for DJ when Seattle won the title in 79, because he shot so poorly in Game 7 of the Finals the year before and the Sonics lost. I was thrilled when the Celtics got him in an absolute steal of a deal, he was a heckuva player. RIP DJ!
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    Hated the Celtics....(big Laker fan in the 80's), but now that I'm older I totally respect those Guys like Bird, McHale, Ainge, Parish, Johnson.

    He was a helluva player....I'll never forget his name because he played among the greats, and was an equal part in that Celtic legacy. RIP D.J.....my prayers are with your family.
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    Watching the Celtics in the 80s really got me into B-Ball. Use to love watching how all those guys could just play together as a team. Something you dont see that much of anymore. Larry Bird may have gotten most of the spot light, but I will always remember DJ as being alot of the heart of the team. R.I.P. DJ.

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    When I think of DJ I think of the infamous call by Johnny "Red" Kerr from when the Celts were playing the Pistons in the '87 Eastern Conference Finals when he scored the winning lay-in after Larry Bird stole the ball. RIP DJ.
    If it's BROWN, flush it DOWN.

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    Quote Originally Posted by VivaVH View Post
    When I think of DJ I think of the infamous call by Johnny "Red" Kerr from when the Celts were playing the Pistons in the '87 Eastern Conference Finals when he scored the winning lay-in after Larry Bird stole the ball. RIP DJ.
    surely, you mean Johnny Most

 

 

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