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Doc on DJ: ‘People forget how good he was’

04.04.10 at 1:59 pm ET
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Celtics coach Doc Rivers, like many fans, was extremely happy on Saturday to hear word that Dennis Johnson was finally being inducted into the basketball hall of fame in Springfield this fall. The official announcement is expected to come out of Indianapolis on Monday during the Final Four.

Rivers just wishes that DJ were around to receive the accolades and get his chance to say thank you. Johnson died of heart failure in Feb. 2007.

“In some ways, it’s a little late,” Rivers said. “It would have been better for this to happen when DJ was alive. It would have been great for him to give the speech. That’s the only bad part of this.”

In many ways, the best thing to have ever happened to Dennis Johnson was his trade from Phoenix to Boston following the 1982-83 season for Rick Robey.

In his first year in Boston in ’83-84, Johnson helped contain Philadelphia’s Andrew Toney in the regular season and Magic Johnson in the playoffs as the Celtics returned to glory in a seven-game NBA Finals win.

But, as Celtics coach Doc Rivers correctly pointed out, while he may not have been well known by fans before coming to Boston in the mid-80s, he certainly had built quite the reputation. He led Seattle to its first and only title in 1979 and was voted NBA Finals MVP.

“I think, unfortunately, for DJ is people forget how good he was in Seattle,” Rivers said of Johnson. “They dismiss that part of his career for some reason. Somehow, they forget he won titles on two different teams and was a key player on both.”

After the ’79 title season, Johnson averaged 19.0 points and 4.1 assists, appeared in his second All-Star Game and was named to the All-Defensive first team and All-NBA second team.

However, the Sonics lost in the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers, who had Hall of Famers Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Johnson later called that playoff exit one of the worst disappointments of his professional career.

Read More: Celtics, Dennis Johnson, NBA, Seattle SuperSonics
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