AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Dennis Johnson, the star NBA
guard who was part of three championships and teamed with Larry Bird on one of the great postseason plays, died Thursday after collapsing at the end of his developmental team's practice. He was 52.
Johnson, coach of the Austin Toros, was unconscious and in cardiac arrest when paramedics arrived at Austin Convention Center, said Warren Hassinger, spokesman for Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services.
Johnson, a five-time All-Star and one of the top defensive guards, was part of the last Boston dynasty. He spent 14 seasons in the league and retired after the 1989-90 season. He played on title teams with the Celtics in 1984 and 1986 and with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1979, when he was the NBA finals MVP.
Johnson was a favorite teammate of Bird's, and the two were part of one of the most memorable plays in Celtics history.
During the fifth game of the 1987 Eastern Conference finals against Detroit, Bird stole Isiah Thomas' inbounds pass under Boston's basket and fed Johnson, who drove in for the winning layup. Boston won the series in seven games but lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals.
In the 1984 finals, Johnson guarded Magic Johnson effectively in the last four games. In 1985, he hit a last-second jumper against Los Angeles that won the fourth game.
He averaged 14.1 points and 5.0 assists for his career. When he retired, he was the 11th player in NBA history to total 15,000 points and 5,000 assists.
Johnson was born Sept. 18, 1954, in Compton, Calif. He played at Pepperdine and was drafted by Seattle in 1976. He was traded to Phoenix in 1980 and Boston in 1983.
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