KJ, Kevin Johnson will always have a special place in my heart for his killer crossover, dunking on Hakeem and for that 25-9-7 while playing 62 minutes in Game 3 of the 1993 NBA Finals.
But who would have ever thought he would become Mayor KJ?
“Today the country elected the first African-American president, Barack Obama. Sacramento also made history today by electing the first African-American mayor,” Johnson told the Sacramento Bee after being elected mayor of Sacramento. “Obama and myself, we ran on the promise and the theme of change. No more business as usual.”
If Johnson brings the city of Sacramento the kind of change he brought the Suns franchise, he will live up to his campaign promise.
The Suns finished 1987-88 – the season in which KJ was acquired in a midseason deal – with a 28-54 record to cap off four straight seasons in which the Suns averaged a 33-49.
Phoenix immediately became a perennial contender starting with a 55-27 season in 1988-89 and won at least 53 games each of the next seven years. KJ’s Suns failed to clear the 50-win benchmark just three times, one being the strike-shortened 1998-99 season.
The driving thrust of all those clubs was a point guard who could blow by defenders at will, nail midrange jumpers and dish out assists with the best of them.
If I had to pick a politician out of the bunch of those mid-90s Suns I would have said Charles Barkley without hesitation.
The Chuckster has spoken for years about running for governor of Alabama, and with his popularity and outspoken nature, well, let’s just say I’d vote for him.
And you never know with Barkley, maybe he still will become a future governor of Alabama and help those ’93 Suns continue to make as big an impact in the political world as they did for the Suns franchise.
If I had to pick a current Phoenix Sun as most likely to follow in KJ’s footsteps, I’d tab his heir apparent of the Phoenix point guard throne, Steve Nash.
Nash has never been afraid to take a stand on issues he believes in, wearing a T-shirt to the 2003 All-Star Game that read “Shoot baskets not people,” and anyone who’s ever seen him direct an offense knows his leadership abilities are off the charts.
Grant Hill, an ardent supporter of Obama, wouldn’t be a bad choice, either.
Speaking of Obama, a noted basketball player, I’d think twice before inviting the new mayor of Sacramento over to the White House for a friendly game of one-on-one.