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Doc: DJ ‘absolutely’ deserves HOF

04.06.09 at 4:34 pm ET
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It came as a surprise to exactly no one that Michael Jordan was a first ballot inductee to the Basketball Hall of Fame in the voting announced Monday morning at the Final Four in Detroit. And names like John Stockton, Utah coach Jerry Sloan, David Robinson and women’s coach C. Vivian Stringer were hardly stunning either.

“That’s awesome,” Celtics coach and former NBA all-star guard Doc Rivers said following his team’s practice on Monday.

“I had a lot to do with that. I guarded Michael, I guarded Stockton, they looked a lot better. I can tell you that. Clearly, first ballot all of them. It’s terrific. Michael may be the greatest player, definitely of our generation, and maybe of all time. Stockton may be the greatest point guard in some arguments,” Rivers said.

But the late Dennis Johnson did not make it.

“That surprises me, I thought he would make it,” Rivers said. “Well, I’m disappointed in that part. I absolutely think he deserves it.”

And a look at the numbers Johnson put up over his 14-year career detail Rivers’ argument. He played in exactly 1,100 games, averaging 14.1 points and 5.0 assists. His numbers were even better in the playoffs. He averaged 17.3 points and 5.6 assists in 180 games, while playing on three NBA championship teams.

Everyone recalls how DJ was brought to Boston in the 1983-84 season, in part, to answer Philadelphia’s Andrew Toney and Maurice Cheeks, and give the Celtics a powerful backcourt influence and provide great defense on Magic Johnson. The Celtics won titles in 1984 and 1986.

But ask Rivers, and he will tell you voters forget what DJ did in Seattle, like leading his team to the 1979 NBA title, earning Finals MVP honors.

“I really believe this, they (voters) only look at him just with the Celtics,” Rivers said. “They forget how great he was with the Sonics. He was unbelievable. He came to the Celtics and they asked him to do what we ask Ray Allen to do, what we ask Paul (Pierce) to do and that is play a role and I actually think he’s being penalized for it.”

NBA.com has a complete bio of Dennis Johnson, who passed away on Feb. 22, 2007 in Austin, TX of a heart attack while coaching the Austin Toros of the NBDL.

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