Friday night, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame will open its doors to the newest inductees, a class that features Dr. Jerry Buss, Cynthia Cooper, Bob Hurley, Sr., Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen and the 1960 and 1992 US Men's Olympic teams. Also, the hall will welcome three players posthumously: Gus Johnson and Maciel "Ubiratan" Pereira.
And Dennis Johnson.
The Enshrinement Ceremonies will begin Friday night at 7 P.M. ET, and will be televised on NBA TV.
Dennis Johnson, who played for the Celtics from 1983 until he retired in 1990, won two titles with Boston, playing a major role as the the team's point guard. "DJ," as he came to be known, was one of the league's toughest defenders, and was named to the NBA All-Defensive team nine times during his 14-year career.
Johnson passed away in 2007 after suffering a heart attack. At the time, Larry Bird said, "Dennis was a great player, one of the best teammates I ever had." And that praise continued Friday morning in Springfield.
"No question it's long overdue," said Bird. "DJ not only performed well for the Celtics but he had a great career before. I'm very happy for him and his family. We always supported one another and he was just a great teammate to play with. Dennis controlled everything we did on the court, you have to understand that to understand our teams. It was an honor to play with him."
Even former rivals were quick acknowledge the great player DJ was, and how Friday's induction is long over due.
"I would have had six [titles] if it wasn't for Dennis!," Magic Johnson said Friday. "But no, Dennis is the greatest defensive player I've ever played against, and has ever played in the league. Smartest player I ever met. He was five steps ahead. Caused so many problems for me and everyone else that had to go head-to-head with him. Awesome. Big, strong, probably one of the bet players that's ever plyed the game."