Thursday, February 22, 2007

The first of the hated Celtics has passed

My favorite memories of the NBA lost a basketball legend today.

The 80s were the greatest years of the NBA. Celtics vs. Lakers. Magic vs. Bird. All the hype.

But there were not many men that could contain Magic - and one of those men, Dennis Johnson, 52, passed away today.

During his 14-year playing career with the Seattle SuperSonics, the Phoenix Suns, and the Boston Celtics, DJ established himself as one of the best defensive guards in the league.

DJ was on five all-star teams and nine straight all-defensive teams. He was a member of three NBA championship squads, including being named the Finals MVP in 1979 with the Sonics.

In 1984, his first year in Boston, the Celtics won their 15th NBA title, and in his third year they won their 16th.

Johnson's postseason heroics -- shutting down Magic in the 1984 Finals; his buzzer-beating jumper to win the 1985 Finals Game 4 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 most-loved Celtics (and most hated by Lakers fans).

It's just too bad this great guard did not make it to the Hall of Fame before he passed away.

Rest in Peace, DJ.
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