College - Wake Forest '81
Hard work and loyalty pay off.
That is the credo Frank Johnson followed to become the 11th head coach in Phoenix Suns history.
After serving on the coaching staff since 1997 and nearly 10 years as a member of the Suns family, Johnson was rewarded with the franchise’s head coach position on February 17, 2002 when Scott Skiles stepped down.
Johnson guided the team to an 11-20 mark in the final 31 games and was rewarded with a three-year contract extension on April 18, one day after the regular season was complete. Seven of Phoenix’s 11 wins under Johnson came against teams that qualified for the playoffs.
The fifth former Suns player to lead the team as head coach (Danny Ainge, Paul Westphal, John Wetzel, Dick Van Arsdale), Johnson spent six seasons on the bench as an assistant coach with the Suns, including the last one-plus seasons as the top assistant coach.
Johnson originally joined the coaching staff on February 20, 1997 as the third assistant coach under Danny Ainge along with current Hornets Head Coach Paul Silas and Donn Nelson. He served with Skiles and Nelson to start the following season and then moved up to the number two assistant spot when Nelson left in the middle of the 1997-98 season. Upon Ainge’s departure in December 1999, Johnson became the lead assistant when Skiles took over.
After retiring from the NBA as a player in 1994, Johnson worked as a spokesman in the Suns community relations department and was a national representative for the NBA’s Team-Up and Stay in School Programs. In addition, he served as an assistant coach at the 1996 NIKE Desert Classic.
Known as “Fourth-Quarter Frank” during his 10-year NBA playing career, Johnson battled his way onto the Suns roster in the summer of 1992. He was a key reserve on the 1992-93 Suns team that reached the NBA Finals. He played in 21 playoff games in 1993 and provided the club with a spark off the bench, both offensively and defensively. In 147 games with the Suns, he averaged 4.5 points and 2.3 assists.
Following a standout collegiate career at Wake Forest, Johnson was tabbed with the 11th overall pick in 1981 by the Washington Bullets.
As a rookie with Washington, he was named to the 1982 NBA All-Rookie Team after averaging 10.7 points and 4.8 assists. The following season he averaged 12.5 points and a career-best 8.1 assists. After seven years with the Bullets, Johnson spent 1988-89 in Houston before venturing to Italy where he played three seasons (1989-92) with Varese and Rimini. He then joined the Suns for his two-year stint.
Over his 596-game NBA career he averaged 8.3 points, 4.2 assists and 1.7 rebounds.
Born November 23, 1958 in Weirsdale, Florida, Johnson is the younger brother of former All-Star guard “Fast Eddie” Johnson. Along with his wife Amy, Johnson has two daughters, Lindsay (16) and Natalie (13).