The Passing of Dennis Johnson

What a shock!

Former Celtics great Dennis Johnson dies at 52

The Associated Press

February 22, 2007, 4:48 PM CST

AUSTIN, Texas — Dennis Johnson, the star NBA guard who was part of three championship teams and combined with Larry Bird in one of the great postseason plays, died Thursday after collapsing at the end of practice while coaching a developmental team. He was 52.

I’m completely ashamed that I forgot to add Dennis Johnson to the all-underrated/role player list that Casey started a couple weeks ago. And I’m saddened by the unexpected passing of someone so young … and someone who was one of those critical players on one of those great teams we followed as kids when we really became fans of the game. I remember Dennis Johnson as a critical cog to the lone Supersonics championship and probably even better on those great Celtics teams with Bird and McHale during their era of battles with the Pistons and Lakers. DJ was truly a great basketball player in all facets of the game — offense, defense, you name it. A great teammate and reportedly a real class person off the court, too. If you were going to make a basketball instructional video and could use only one player to do it, DJ would be at the top of your list — he did everything fundamentally well and was not a showboat.

Moment of silence, please, to commemorate the sudden passing of a great athlete and person from our youth. Thoughts or comments from others on Dennis Johnson are appreciated.

Wally

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2 Responses

  1. It is interesting to listen to the commentary regarding DJ’s passing. Everybody is mentioning his professionalism and his desire to pass on to the next generation a workmanlike attitude.

    After spending so many years in the NBA, first as a player, then a short coaching career, DJ wanted to return. But he was willing to work his way back to the top.

    This passing is a loss for the league. It sounds like he had a lot to give and was willing to give. Hopefully, some of the younger players will reconsider their thug persona and try to model themselves after great players such as Johnson.

  2. I do remember DJ to be a “Glue” type of guy for the Celtics. He was one of the more likable guys in the NBA, ever. He never seemed to be in a hurry on the court, just doing his job and setting up his teammates. He certainly did not look like a great athlete with a few extra pounds around the belly, the low top sneakers and the shorts showing off his chubby legs. That was such a compelling team. Not only the stars but guys like M.L. Carr cheering the team with his towel or Walton looking goofy on the sidelines and the commentators talking about the pain in his feet. Then he would come limping in to the game for The Chief and pull down a huge rebound, outlet the ball and take about 15 seconds to waddle up to the offensive side of the floor. And how about Danny Ainge, he was a pain in the butt, but he had guts and hit some huge shots over the years. He really did not fit in with the rest of the guys on that team but certainly brought an edge. A few years before you had Jo Jo White also. And always there was Red sitting courtside with a huge Cigar in his mouth. That just doesn’t happen in the NBA today, only baseball (Jim Leyland) and golf(Big John).

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