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YouTube Gold: Dennis Johnson

Boston Celtics
Dennis Johnson shooting a free throw for the Boston Celtics

It’s really striking when you look back at old Boston Celtics videos - meaning from the Bird era - about how many players, when asked to name their best teammate, say Dennis Johnson.

The funny thing is that in his first two stops, with Seattle and Phoenix, he got a lot of criticism for supposedly being a bad teammate.

That reputation followed him to the Celtics, where he finally shook it because he fit that team like a glove.

Playing with Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish and Danny Ainge, among many other outstanding players, Johnson excelled. In particular, he developed a tremendous chemistry with Bird. If you’re really lucky, as a player, you’ll have that kind of relationship at some point where you just know what another guy is doing, when it’s almost telepathic. Think about John Stockton and Karl Malone or, closer to home, the connection between Gene Banks and Kenny Dennard or, more recently, between Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett.

A lot of people will remember the brilliant steal that Bird made against the Pistons in 1987 when it looked like Boston was done. Well Johnson was the guy who ran to the basket when Bird did that.

Tragically, Johnson died of a heart attack in 2007. He was just 52.