Former Wave a new basketball Hall of Famer

Former Pepperdine University basketball guard Dennis Johnson was posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday. Johnson’s widow, Donna, represented him at the Hall of Fame Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts, and Johnson’s former Boston Celtics teammate, fellow Hall of Famer Larry Bird, served as the presenter.

Johnson, who was a five-time NBA All-Star, passed away on February 22, 2007 after a heart attack.

Coming out of Dominguez High School in Compton, Johnson was not a highly regarded prospect. He did not get a lot of playing time as a senior, and had to play at Los Angeles Harbor Junior College before earning an opportunity at Pepperdine.

In 1976, his only season at Pepperdine, Johnson was named first team All-WCC after averaging 15.7 points per game. The Waves won the WCC championship, earning an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. In the first round, Pepperdine defeated Memphis, and nearly beat UCLA on the Bruins’ home court in the next round, pulling to within one point midway through the second half.

Johnson was drafted by the Seattle Supersonics in 1976. He helped them win the NBA championship in 1979, and was named the NBA Finals MVP. He was then traded to the Phoenix Suns, where he played three seasons.

Johnson is likely best known as a Boston Celtic, the team with which he spent seven seasons. Johnson won NBA championships with the Celtics in 1984 and 1986, and his number three jersey was retired by the Celtics in 1991.

Johnson was a renowned defender. During his 14 professional seasons, he was named to nine consecutive NBA All-Defensive teams.

For his career, he averaged 14.1 points, 5 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game.

Johnson was very proud of his reputation as a champion. “I am a winner,” he was quoted as once saying. “I put my heart into the game. I hate to lose. I accept it when it comes, but I still hate it. That’s the way I am.”

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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