Dennis Johnson, 52, Passes Away
The Boston Celtics are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former point guard Dennis Johnson, 52. Johnson, known by fans and teammates alike as "DJ", passed suddenly on Thursday.
Johnson, who was serving as the head coach of the Austin Toros, the Celtics' D-League affiliate, was a member of three NBA Championship teams, and won two titles with the Boston Celtics ('84, '86). Johnson was a five-time NBA All-Star (1979-82, '85) and a nine-time NBA All-Defensive team member during his 13-year career. The Celtics retired DJ's #3 on December 13, 1991.
Johnson was known as one of the best defenders in the NBA, and was once called by Larry Bird "the best I've ever played with." Johnson retired at age 35 after the 1989-90 season as the 11th player in NBA history to amass more than 15,000 points and 5,000 assists.
Johnson also served as an Assistant Coach for the Celtics from 1992-93 through 1996-97.
The Celtics acquired Johnson on June 27, 1983 from the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Rick Robey.
Perhaps Johnson's most famous play for the Celtics came in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons at Boston Garden. The Pistons had possession and a 107-106 lead with five seconds to play, and Isiah Thomas attempted to inbound the ball. But Larry Bird baited Thomas, made his famous steal on the baseline and turned around to find Johnson streaking to the basket for the winning layup, sending the Garden crowd into pandemonium.
The Celtics went on to win the series and advance to the 1987 NBA Finals.
Archives: Dennis Johnson Q&A with Celtics.com