[Editor's Note: Taking a break from ADAW to give you part 11 of a 20-part series. The following was written by
Romans12 yikes, I mean LoneWiz54, a regular both here and on HH. Jake is up next with Moses Malone. -PM]
When I think of Gus " Honeycomb" Johnson, I think of a great athlete and basketball player that was spectacular and not given the credit he deserves. Gus Johnson was a player whose high flying act was on par with Dr. J and Connie Hawkins. At 6'6" 235lbs, Johnson had the physical structure of a NFL tight end. He was without a doubt the most muscular and strongest player of his time. During a close to 9 year period ('63-'72), the man with the gold star in one of his front teeth, was widely considered the second best power forward in the NBA next to top 50 player and Hall of Fame member Dave DeBusschere. The battles between Johnson and DeBusschere during the regular season and playoff were the type movies and books are written about.
For those that have never seen him play, Gus Johnson was "Charles Barkley" (Charles in Philly and Phoenix after the big weight loss) before there was a "Charles Barkley". He had amazing leaping ability for his height, and was as strong as two Army tanks. A great shot blocker and one of the first players to be able to hold a basketball with one hand, wave it around to fake his opponent, and end the play with a swooping, powerful, 3 times backboard shattering, dunk. Only MJ, Dr J and Connie Hawkins have been able to handle the ball in one hand and maneuver to the rim with the same grace and power of Gus "HoneyComb" Johnson.
The follow quotes are taken from article entitled "How Great Was Gus Johnson?" written in 1997 by Marlin Smith.
Earl Monroe said the following.
[Ed: This is still from that 1997 book. -PM]
How high was the nail? The Tribune reporter that wrote an article about it measured it at 11 feet, 6 inches. But, remember, Gus Johnson was greater than his legend. While in the NBA, only Gus Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain and "Jumpin" Johnny Jackson of the Harlem Globetrotters could pick a quarter off the top of the backboard. That's a leap of 13 feet in the air."
Many times an NBA All-Star, Gus Johnson averaged 17.4 points and 12.7 rebounds in during his NBA career. Tragically, Gus Johnson died in 1987 from inoperable brain cancer. The Basketball Hall of Fame has yet to include his name among its members. It is not complete until the name Gus "Honeycomb" Johnson is added.