Dennis Johnson’s tenure as the Clips’ head coach was a brief one.  After serving as a Clippers assistant coach since 2000, he took over the helm after Elgin Baylor canned Alvin Gentry just 16 games before the end of the 2003 season. Johnson went 8-16 as head coach, compiling a winning percentage nearly identical to Gentry’s 19-39.  I don’t recall much from those couple of months, only that Johnson had to contend with an increasingly unhappy Andre Miller at point guard.  Ironically, Miller, as Ric Bucher told ESPN News just moments ago, is probably the closest thing to a present-day Johnson in form and function -- minus the championship pedigree, of course. 

As an Atlanta Hawks fan growing up in the 1980s, I despised Dennis Johnson.  He marshaled a Celtics team that kept the upstart Hawks in their place.  He zipped bullet passes into the post, tormented a young Doc Rivers, and hit nasty floaters at crucial moments.  As a kid just learning the nuances of the game, watching Johnson was the first time I really grasped what it meant to play great on-ball defense. 

Above all, DJ was a professional, a husband, and a father.  That’s reason enough to mourn his passing.