Dennis Johnson finally enters the Hall of Fame tonight! Please join us in the Chat for the ceremony.
Here are some memories and thoughts from the CelticsBlog staff. Please share some of your own in the comments.
Bent: DJ slowly scraped himself up from the floor and wiped his forehead with his sweatband. It didn't help much, as he headed to the line, pouring with sweat and half-looking like he was about to keel over. On receiving the ball from the official, DJ spun it through his hands, then bent forward and started bouncing the ball low to the ground. As he reached the last few of his twelve bounces - for it always had to be twelve bounces, at least until next year, when he'd increase the number of bounces by one like he always did - he straightened up and you could almost hear the creaking of his back over the noise of the fans. He took a deep breath and calmly sunk the free throw.
It didn't matter that all of the Big Three were playing through pain, or that Danny Ainge was mired in a slump and had failed to score and the bench had combined to produce zero points in regulation. Dennis stepped up. That was DJ's role. Stepping up. Whether that be to knock down a key jumper or take on a defensive assignment, DJ always knew when to step up. Maybe that's why Larry called him the best he'd ever played with.
On this occasion, the Celtics were a beaten team, but DJ kept fighting, almost single-handedly willing his teammates into overtime with some inspirational plays. It wasn't to be, as the Celtics lost the game and headed back to Detroit, facing elimination. It would take them another 20 years to get back to the Eastern Conference Final.
It might seem an odd abiding memory to hold, but the way DJ did absolutely everything he could for the cause, and refused to accept defeat until the final buzzer sounded, increased the love and respect I had for someone that was already one of my favorite players.
While DJ will always be remembered for all that other stuff - and rightly so - here was a guy that embodied everything that is special about Celtic Pride.
A true Celtic will go into the Hall of Fame today. While it's sadly too late for him to step up to the podium, he richly deserves all the tributes that will mark this occasion.
More after the break.
Redz: Some moments that stick out:
The way he calmly beckoned Larry over for a hug after Bird stole the ball to save the `87 series vs Detroit in the Conference Finals. Everyone was going nuts, and DJ was still composed. It was like a Dad calling his son over to tell him he was proud but he didn't have the proper words to express it.
The super clutch buzzer beater to beat LA in the `85 Finals. The Celts were outmatched that year, bit DJ's game winner gave the Lakers a good scare, and the Celts some serious hope.
One other random memory was the game he refused to take a shot. I forget what he was protesting. DJ was 0-for-o from the field that night.
Jeff: I just remember that patented poke-away-move he did on defense. The guy with the ball would start to drive on DJ and after a step he would find himself without the ball because DJ poked it behind him. It was like DJ told the ball to stay still while the offensive player's momentum made him overrun the ball. At that point, DJ would calmly pick up the ball and start a fast break going the other way.
I also remember that he wasn't the greatest assist guy, but he always made the right pass. He wasn't the greatest shooter, but he always made the clutch shot. He was the perfect compliment guy. Or as Doc calls him, a Hall of Fame role player.
Edgar mostly wanted to share this video: