Dennis Johnson, former great for the Sonics, Suns, and Celtics, passed away suddenly today at age 52. Johnson reportedly collapsed after his NBDL team, the Austin Toros, had practice.
I was not old enough to witness Johnson play, but everything I've heard about him indicates that he was one of a kind. Older Washington basketball fans probably remember Johnson torching the Bullets in the 1979 NBA Finals as a member of the Sonics.
Those that did watch Johnson play have nothing but praise for him. Bill Simmons wrote a fantastic column today lamenting that DJ won't be around for his imminent hall of fame induction.
If Joe Dumars can be a hall of famer, surely Dennis Johnson should be too.
I'm trying to think of a modern-day equivalent to the dearly departed DJ, and the name I keep coming back to is Deron Williams in Utah. Minus the ink, of course. Though Williams appears to be a better shooter, and DJ would never have gone third in the draft, they're both cerebral pass-first point guards with the ability to make clutch shots and lock somebody up on defense.
Clearly, the world lost a great player, a great person with incredible character, and a great coach. Our condolances go out to Dennis Johnson's family and to the NBA.