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DJ gets his due

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

Dennis Johnson is set to be enshrined in Springfield.It would have been nice if Dennis Johnson were alive for his long-overdue election to the Hall of Fame. Of course, teammates and fans knew he was a legend all along says ESPN Boston's Peter May:

"The fact that Dennis Johnson is not in the Hall of Fame is a disgrace to the sport of basketball and I am embarrassed." -- Bill Walton

Those were Big Bill's thoughts 15 years ago or so, when Dennis Johnson was first eligible for the Hall of Fame. Year after year, DJ waited for a call that never came, that never had a chance of even being made. He was deemed unworthy.

And then he died in February 2007.

But his wife, Donna, and his family and friends, including Walton, a Hall of Famer in his own right, will finally see a basketball injustice undone when Johnson is announced as a member of the Hall of Fame, Class of 2010, on Monday. Yes, it took way, way too long. Yes, it's a travesty that DJ himself didn't live to see it happen.

But to those who watched him play and were able to appreciate the singular greatness of the player, it is an honor richly deserved and long overdue.

"It really doesn't come as a surprise to me," said former Celtics general manager Jan Volk. "The surprise is that it took so long. Anyone who ever played with or against Dennis Johnson knew that no one competed harder. And the bigger the game, the better he played."

Johnson didn't have dazzling numbers, Hall of Fame numbers if you will. He averaged 14.1 points a game. But numbers never defined DJ. He was a certifiable terror on defense (still an overlooked talent in Hall of Fame voting) and was as disruptive a force as any guard in his era.

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