Dennis Wayne Johnson (September 18, 1954 – February 22, 2007), nicknamed “DJ”, was an American professional basketball player for the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Seattle SuperSonics, Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics and coach of the Los Angeles Clippers. He was an alumnus of Dominguez High School, Los Angeles Harbor College and Pepperdine University.
The Seattle SuperSonics took Johnson in the second round of the 1976 draft with the 29th pick and gave him a four-year contract, with which he earned a salary of $45,000 in the first year and $90,000 in the last. In his rookie year, the 1976–77 NBA season. He eventually led the Sonics to their only NBA championship in 1979, winning the Finals MVP Award. After a short stint with the Phoenix Suns, he became the starting point guard for the Boston Celtics, with whom he won two more championships. Johnson was voted into five All-Star Teams, one All-NBA First and one Second Team, and nine consecutive All-Defensive First and Second Teams. Apart from his reputation as a defensive stopper, Johnson was known as a clutch player who made several decisive plays in NBA playoffs history.
On October 26, 2007, a learning center was dedicated in Johnson’s name in the Central Branch of the YMCA of Greater Boston. The center was made possible by the donations and effort of Larry Bird and M.L. Carr. Johnson’s family, Danny Ainge, Carr, and members of the YMCA and local community were present for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Donna Johnson said on behalf of her husband, “If Dennis were alive he would really appreciate the thought and love the idea of the Learning Center.”
The NBA D-League Coach of the Year award is named after Johnson.
The Celtics franchise has retired Johnson’s #3 jersey, which hangs from the rafters of the TD Garden, the home arena of the team. On April 5, 2010, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame officially announced that Johnson had been posthumously elected to the Hall. He was formally inducted on August 13. He is considered by several sports journalists to be one of the most underrated players of all time.
Career highlights and awards
3× NBA champion (1979, 1984, 1986)
NBA Finals MVP (1979)
5× NBA All-Star (1979–1982, 1985)
All-NBA First Team (1981)
All-NBA Second Team (1980)
6× NBA All-Defensive First Team (1979–1983, 1987)
3× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1984–1986)
No. 3 retired by the Boston Celtics