Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
I am so happy this guy is still there.
Gus "Honeycomb" Johnson, 13th all time in rebounds per game at 12.7.
6'6", 235 lbs, Bullets, Pacers, Suns
A lethal inside scorer and an exciting open-court performer, Johnson was among the most effective two-way players of his time. His moves around the basket were comparable to those of peers Elgin Baylor and Connie Hawkins then Julius Erving in later years. Yet as effective as Johnson was a post-up and mid-range threat, he was even more dominant as a physical defender and rebounder throughout his career. Indeed, he was one of the select few players who was quick enough to be paired against backcourt great Oscar Robertson yet strong enough to hold his own against the much taller Wilt Chamberlain in the middle.
Despite chronic knee problems, Johnson was a perennial All-Star. In his NBA career, Johnson averaged 17.4 points and 12.7 rebounds per game. He scored 25 points in 25 minutes in the 1965 All-Star Game.
Johnson experienced his best years with the Bullets from 1968-71, during which he received All-League consideration. As the team was more successful, he received more recognition for his stellar play. In the 1968-69 campaign, the Bullets turned in the best regular-season record but faded in the playoffs, largely because Johnson was sidelined because of an injury. After a third-place finish in 1970 to the eventual league champion New York, Johnson and the Bullets upset them in seven games then advanced to the NBA Finals in 1971. Injuries had decimated the team by then, however, and it lost to Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Milwaukee Bucks in a four-game sweep.
Injuries banished Johnson to the bench in 1972, his last with the team. They limited his career to 10 seasons and no doubt prevented post-career honors such as Hall of Fame induction and inclusion on the NBA 50 Greatest Players Ever list.
Another testimonial to Gus:
How great was Gus Johnson? In the same article, the GM of the Lakers in the 60's said that "when we passed Gus Johnson in the first round, we blew two or three NBA championships." Gus was that good. While Gus played for the losing Bullets for most of his professional carreer which caused his fame to be not as great as it could have been, the admiration Gus received from his peers was almost incomparable.
As Missildine says, "as long as basketball is played, Gus Johnson's image will be lasting and bright...I hope the NBA Hall of Fame gets the message it should have gotten long ago."
Gus was considered by many to be the prototype of the modern NBA player. He was known for his showboating (he had a gold star in his front tooth) both on and off the court. He was one of the first to dunk and shattered three NBA backboards in his career. He had acrobatic moves and shots. Although his main thing was assists, rebounding and defense, he is often compared to Julius Erving, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. High praise? You bet, and not just from Missildine. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar called one of Gus Johnson's backboard shattering dunks "one of the greatest basketball plays ever."
Earl Monroe said, "Gus was ahead of his time, flying through the air for slam dunks, breaking backboards and throwing full-court passes behind his back. He was spectacular, but he also did the nitty gritty jobs, defense and rebounding. With all the guys in the Hall of Game, Gus deserves to be there already."
Current Bullets owner Abe Pollin said, "I first saw Gus on television...I had never seen a player dominate a game so. Gus was the Dr. J of his time and anyone that ever had the privilege to see him play will never forget what a great basketball player Gus Johson was." And from Butch Komives, "You've got to remember he was only 6-6. But he had the strength to play Wilt Chamberlain and the quickness to guard Oscar Robertson. No one played the Big O tougher. In my book, Gus was better than Elgin Baylor, Rick Barry or Dr. J. He did it all and never backed down from anyone."
And the best testimonial from Hoops Hype, they rated the 10 players after the NBA's all time 50 greatest, and Gus Johnson came up on the list:
Gus “Honeycomb” Johnson. One of the heroes of my youth, Gus was arguably the second best power forward, behind Jerry Lucas, for an eight-year stretch ending in 1971, despite standing but 6-6. Four times he was second-team All-NBA, and he’d have garnered more honors if not for a serious knee at age 32, a few months after his greatest season (1970-71). The NBA began it’s “All-Defensive” teams in 1969, and Gus made first team in 1970 and 1971. A dominant rebounder, he even outboarded his teammate and rebounder extraordinaire Wes Unseld in the 1970-71 season that saw the Baltimore Bullets compete in the Finals for the first time. (Alas, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson led the Bucks to a 4-0 sweep.) He was the Jim Brown of the NBA, combining strength, power, speed, quickness and leaping ability. A solid scorer and the greatest 6-6 shotblocker ever, he had the misfortune to play before the league recorded swats. He had a number of epic battles with Top 50 player and Hall of Famer Dave DeBusschere of the Knicks. He was also the first to shatter a backboard while dunking. Gus probably would have made the Top 50 if he hadn’t died so young, in 1987. He wasn’t around nine years later to remind people what a force he was. Let’s just say that if Gus had battled Charles Barkley when both were in their prime, it’s Barkley who would have been forced to cry, “You’re my daddy!”
Last edited by JCMElway; 10-19-2013 at 08:01 AM..