Nicknamed DJ, Dennis Johnson played one season of ball at Pepperdine University averaging 15.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game. The Seattle Supersonics drafted him with the 29th pick in the 1976 NBA Draft.
DJ had an underwhelming rookie season, but when Lenny Wilkens became the Sonics coach in 1978, DJ became the starting shooting guard and helped lead the Sonics to the NBA Finals. DJ, however, was the Finals scapegoat when he missed all 14 shots he took in Game 7.
A la Tim Tebow, DJ vowed never to let that happen again. In 1979, the Seattle Supersonics won the NBA Finals and Johnson made good on his vow, winning Finals MVP.
Despite his success, Seattle traded DJ to the Phoenix Suns in 1981 because he no longer got along well with coach Lenny Wilkens. With the Suns, DJ was a two-time All-Star, three-time All-Defensive First Team and was All-NBA First Team in 1982. Even with all the success, he once again clashed again with the coach, John MacLeod, and was traded to the Celtics for the 1984 season.
Before he joined the Boston Celtics, DJ was a very good player; in Boston, he became a memorable one. He won two NBA championships and earned the respect of teammates and opponents alike. Magic Johnson called him “ the greatest backcourt defender of all-time” and Larry Bird considered him “the best player he ever played with.” DJ will be remembered for his tenacious defense, the selfless, steady job he did as a Celtics floor general, and his game winning lay up against the Detroit Pistons in the 1987 Eastern Conference Finals on a steal and pass from Larry Bird.