Friday, February 23, 2007

Farewell Dennis Johnson


Dennis Johnson has passed away at age 52.

I will always remember watching him when I was a youngster, as he played on those great Celtics teams in the 80's. The Lakers - Celtics sports rivalry was the greatest level of competition that I have ever witnessed.... in ANY sport. DJ was a big part of that mix. Yes, there was Bird, McHale, Parish, etc... but everything went through DJ as the Point man.
He was one of the greatest to ever play the Point Guard position.

He was also a class act. Dennis Johnson came from an era of great players and an era when there was a great league. I recently had a debate with someone regarding the contrast between the current NBA culture and the NBA culture of past generations, like the one I grew up with. THERE IS NO COMPARISON WHATSOEVER. I could write all day long about those differences, but anyone who grew up watching Larry Bird, Julius Erving, Dennis Johnson, Magic, Isaiah Thomas, Moses Malone, etc, knows what the deal is.

DJ was a man on and off the court. He exemplified professionalism, hard work, being a great role model, dedication, leadership, competitiveness, grace, teamwork, and good sportsmanship. It's hard to find all those things in a player of todays era.... (across the any sport, let alone Basketball).


Great commentary on Johnson and his career

Commentary from Hartford Courant

Some Early Reactions

Associated Press

Reaction to former NBA star Dennis Johnson's death Thursday at the age of 52:
"Dennis was a great player, one of the best teammates I ever had, and a wonderful person. My thoughts and condolences are with his family at this difficult time." — former teammate Larry Bird.

"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. Dennis was a man of extraordinary character with a tremendous passion for the game."
— NBA commissioner David Stern.

"Larry Bird was totally in awe of Dennis. Dennis was just an awesome player. He played hard and he took the big shots." — former Celtics coach K.C. Jones.

"Dennis was a great player for the Sonics. He helped us win a championship and was the MVP of the finals. But more importantly, he was a tremendous person. He seemed to be enjoying coaching in Austin, and was in great spirits. He's left us way too soon." — former Seattle coach Lenny Wilkens, now the Sonics' vice chairman.
"We were laughing. He just collapsed." — Austin Toros (NBDL) spokeswoman Perri Travillion, who called 911 for Johnson when he dropped to the sidewalk outside the practice facility.

"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. D.J. was a free spirit and a fun personality who loved to laugh and play the game," — former Celtics teammate Danny Ainge, now Boston's executive director of basketball operations.

"Dennis was a joy to be around and a terrific person. He will truly be missed by the many people whose lives he touched." — Elgin Baylor, the Los Angeles Clippers' vice president of basketball operations.

"It seems like just yesterday when D.J. made the shot against Detroit that allowed our Celts to go to the championship against the Lakers. D.J. brought more than trophies and triumph to Boston. He helped define one of the Golden Ages in Celtics history. It is a tragedy he was taken from us so young." — U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.

"The bigger the game, the better he played. All he wanted to do was win; he desperately wanted to win and make a contribution to a winning effort. He thrived on competition and challenge. Everybody he played with had enormous respect for him as a player and as a person. I would suspect that everybody he played against shared that respect." — former Celtics GM Jan Volk.

"He was a great player on a great ballclub. He played with passion and grit. It was fun to play games like that. You always enjoyed it. It made for not only great games, but great entertainment." — former Detroit Pistons center Bill Laimbeer.

"I just heard about it. It's tragic. I don't know the circumstances of it. Absolutely a tragic loss. There's not much I can say but to offer tremendous compassion and sympathy to his family. It teaches you about what life is about and that this is just a game." — Miami Heat coach Pat Riley.

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