In the 1984 NBA Finals, Boston Celtics point guard Dennis Johnson had a huge impact on the games. Despite getting most of the credit for Boston’s win over Los Angeles Lakers, it was actually Bird who made the difference in Game 7.

The when did larry bird retire is a question that has been asked many times. Larry Bird retired in 1992, and Dennis Johnson was the Celtics’ most important player in 1984.

When Larry Bird claimed Dennis Johnson was the greatest player he’d ever played with, he was paying him the highest praise. Johnson was never the most flashy player in the NBA, and he never stuffed the stat sheet. He was a consummate pro who earned a career in the NBA by playing defense and hitting clutch shots. While Bird received the most of the acclaim for the Boston Celtics’ success in the 1980s, it was Johnson who delivered when it mattered most, particularly in the 1984 NBA Finals.

Larry Bird recognized Dennis Johnson’s importance to the Boston Celtics.

Dennis-Johnson-Celtics-1-1024x691

Dennis-Johnson-Celtics-1-1024x691 During an NBA basketball game at The Forum in Inglewood, California in 1984, Dennis Johnson of the Boston Celtics dribbles the ball up court while being defended by Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers. Johnson was a member of the Celtics from 1983 until 1990. | Getty Images/Focus on Sport

After spending the previous three seasons with the Phoenix Suns, Johnson joined the Celtics for the 1983-84 season. The Celtics couldn’t beat the Philadelphia 76ers or the Milwaukee Bucks after winning the NBA championship in 1981, so Red Auerbach made a play to acquire Johnson. DJ altered his game when he joined Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish after averaging 17.5 points per game with the Suns.

Johnson evolved into a genuine point guard, passing the ball to the NBA’s greatest frontcourt. He was also a stalwart defender, and it’s no surprise that the Celtics returned to the NBA Finals in his first season with the club.

During a one-on-one interview with Magic Johnson on ESPN Throwback, Bird was asked who the greatest player he’d ever played with was.

“Probably Dennis Johnson,” Bird said, “but it’s a tie between Kevin (McHale) and Dennis Johnson.” “They’re two very different players. Dennis was usually shooting 44 percent during the regular season and then 60 percent in the playoffs, so I always felt he might help us out if we needed anything huge.

“Kevin was fantastic. You played against him, after all. D.J., on the other hand, was a fun person to play with. He had the same thoughts as I had. He was also very good.”

The 1984 NBA Finals MVP was Larry Bird, but Dennis Johnson may have been the most crucial player for the Celtics.

Dennis Johnson, may you rest in peace!

NBA Champion SONICS 2nd Rd Pick 3 x Defend-All 2 All-Star selections 1 x NBA All-Star

1st Team All-NBA for the SUNS 2 x Defend-All 2 All-Star selections

2x NBA Champion 4x All-Defense All-Star for the CELTICS pic.twitter.com/5Q3Othgif7

September 18, 2020 — Ballislife.com (@Ballislife)

As the 1984 NBA Finals progressed, the Celtics needed to try something new. In Game 1, they were defeated at home, and in Game 2, they were outplayed. Boston would have been behind 2-0 after two games at the Boston Garden if it hadn’t been for a steal by Gerald Henderson with 18 seconds remaining that pushed the game into overtime. The Lakers blasted the Celtics out of the water in Game 3, winning 137-104.

K.C. Jones, the Celtics’ coach, made a change at halftime of Game 4. He had Johnson, who stands 6-foot-4, defend Magic, the Lakers’ 6-foot-9 playmaker. DJ, who had a poor offensive performance in Game 3 with four points, appeared to find his scoring stride while serving as a defensive specialist. Throughout the playoffs, he has struggled with his shooting. By concentrating on Magic’s defense, he was able to avoid overthinking his attacking game.

According to Sports Illustrated in 1984, DJ stated, “I thought I was into the game, but the first game in L.A. (Game 3) showed me that I wasn’t.” “Even K.C. had to come over to see if there was something wrong. Whatever it was, I assured him, it wouldn’t be there again. I’d been missing jump shots since January and understood why, but I’d never taken the time to make the necessary adjustments. It was just a matter of being more aggressive psychologically and physically.”

Starting in Game 4, Johnson exploded offensively, scoring 22, 22, 20, and 22 points in the last four games, three of which were Celtics victories.

Johnson was the Celtics’ unsung hero throughout their 1980s dynasty.

From 1984 through 1987, the Celtics went to the NBA Finals four times in a row after capturing the NBA title in 1981. During the decade, they made five Finals appearances and won three championships. While Bird rightfully received a lot of the praise, DJ was the unsung hero.

Johnson was more than simply a star in the 1984 series, despite being overshadowed by the frontcourt of Hall of Famers. Johnson scored 27 points and made the game-winning shot at the buzzer to tie the series in Game 4 in 1985. In the last seconds, DJ handed the ball to Bird. DJ grabbed a return pass and buried his dagger when Magic went to double Bird.

In 2015, Magic told Sports Illustrated, “They liked to run Larry on that, so I stunted toward him.” “In that scenario, you can’t let Larry have it. I couldn’t get back to DJ in time after that.”

DJ was a member of one of the greatest Celtics teams of all time in 1986. The Boston Celtics won their third championship in a decade, beating the Houston Rockets in six games. He made the game-winning shot against the Detroit Pistons in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 1987. With one second remaining in a one-point Celtics victory, he received a feed from Bird, who had stolen the inbounds ball, and scored.

Johnson passed away in 2007. He fell during a team session while coaching the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League. DJ was 52 years old when he died.

According to ESPN, former teammate Danny Ainge stated, “He was one of the most underappreciated players in the history of the game, in my view, and one of the best Celtic signings of all time.”

When Larry Bird was approached for autographs, he used to sign another superstar’s name.

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