Dennis Johnson, Pride of the Celtics

Dennis Johnson, photographed in 2003 while coaching with the Los Angeles Clippers. i i

Dennis Johnson, seen here in 2003 while coaching with the Los Angeles Clippers, was a key cog on three NBA championship teams. Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
Dennis Johnson, photographed in 2003 while coaching with the Los Angeles Clippers.

Dennis Johnson, seen here in 2003 while coaching with the Los Angeles Clippers, was a key cog on three NBA championship teams.

Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Dennis Johnson's death at 52 robs the basketball world of a powerful, positive force.

The quintessential teammate and defensive star won three league titles — two with the Boston Celtics — and was a coach in the NBA's development league.

Johnson, a slender 6-4 guard, led the Seattle SuperSonics to an NBA title in 1979 and was named MVP of the championship series. Nine times he was voted to the NBA's all-defensive team.

In Boston, he was a fixture on Celtics championship teams in 1984 and 1986 — teams that included future Hall of Famers Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish.

"He was one of those guys who played every minute of every game," says Ron Rapoport, the former Chicago Sun-Times columnist. "Dennis Johnson could do what needed to be done."

Rapoport and Scott Simon reflect on the career of the man known as "D.J."

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