Dennis Johnson 1954-2007
As a kid, growing up in State College, we didn't really get any basketball on TV. We didn't have a "Philadelphia" station, and, with no Pittsburgh team, there wasn't much NBA influence. My Dad preferred College Basketball (a sentiment I now share) - but he would watch the NBA playoffs - so I eventually decided that I was a Celtics fan (I also decided I was a St. Louis Cardinals fan, but that's a totally different story). It was the 80s, which was a pretty good time to love the team from Boston. I "learned" the game of basketball by watching Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish... and Dennis Johnson - D.J. I had a mad crush (and by mad I mean crazy) on Kevin McHale and Danny Ainge (a little more understandable) - but D.J. was the "go to guy" - the defender extraordinaire. Adored by his teammates and the fans. I loved those guys - (and boy did I hate the Lakers - especially James Worthy). That group played real team basketball - and Dennis' straightforward play and personality were a huge part of that.
Johnson passed away on Thursday, at the age of 52.
Thanks for the memories D.J.