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Thursday, February 22, 2007

DJ's gone

Here's a newly departed hoops star who won't be forgotten.

Comments (7)

Isn't that sad? And though the talk is about the Celtics I remember him with Seattle, teamed in the backcourt with Gus Williams and Downtown Freddy Brown.

Sad, indeed. Man he could play defensive for a guard, like no one except maybe Gary Payton in his early 90s prime.

As Bill Simmons points out in a column over at ESPN.com (sorry - too tech-illiterate to provide a link), DJ had a history of having his greatness overshadowed. Case in point - Larry Bird's famous steal of the inbounds pass in the conference finals against the Detroit Pistons. Everybody remembers that Bird stole the ball, but hardly anybody remembers that DJ had the basketball smarts to (a) cut to the basket before Bird even stole the ball, (b) quickly catch a pass and shoot the ball, and (c) avoid a flying Joe Dumars trying to block the shot. A tremendous play by a great player.

Dennis Johnson was not only a great player, helping to lead the Seattle Sonics to a championship in 1978-79, but he was also a good friend to players and welcoming to their family and friends.

Superstar forward Lonnie Shelton of Oregon State University and a member of the Sonic championship team, spoke fondly of Dennis being one of the top five "clutch" players ever. I agree.

I watched DJ play basketball during my student days in Boston.

The Celtics were a terrible team in the late 1970's. You could buy tickets to games on game day. Cowens, Wicks, Ford and others were in the twighlights of their career.

Then Red worked his magic--picking up Bird, McHale, Parish, DJ, Walton (briefly), Ainge and a bunch of talented role players.

I think the Celtics traded Rick Robey, a third string center,to Phoenix for DJ.

I will never forget the game DJ stole the inbound pass and Bird scored the winning bucket.

Johnny Most's color commentary was a classic.

Larry Bird said it all in today's paper: a great teammate, a solid basketball player, and a quality person.

As someone in his late 40's, I still can't believe DJ was only 52 when he died.

Nick Fish

Or rather when Bird stole the ball and passed it to DJ for layoff.(Thanks Sheef for having a better memory)

How many players today even know what it means to play off the ball?

As someone in his late 40's, I still can't believe DJ was only 52 when he died.

Every day is a gift.

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