The last time I saw Dennis Johnson it was as if we were long lost brothers. I was a reporter covering the NBA for Sports Illustrated and the New York Times when i chronicled his journey with the Seattle SuperSonics and Boston Celtics. We hadn’t seen each other in years. He was an assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers. But he smiled that big Redbone smile and offered a friendly laugh. It was as if he was saying. “We’re both survivors. Good to see you’re still doing your thing.”
DJ was doing his thing then. After three NBA champiosnships, 5 All-Star appearances and a legacy as one of the most tenacious, but well-rounded guards ever, he was trying to work his way back to a head coaching opportunity in the NBA.
On Thursday, he was doing his thing again – still trying to work his way back, this time as coach of a developmental league team in Austin, Tx. He was coaching when he collapsed. Paramedics tried for 23 minutes to revive him. They could not. Dennis Johnson was just 52.
“I hate to lose,” he once said. “I accept it when it comes, but I still hate it. That’s the way I am.”
Count each day a blessing.