Kevin Johnson is a Hall of Famer

May 3, 2014; Louisville, KY, USA; Sacramento mayor and former NBA player Kevin Johnson arrives before the 2014 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
May 3, 2014; Louisville, KY, USA; Sacramento mayor and former NBA player Kevin Johnson arrives before the 2014 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

In journalism school we are taught to be accurate and objective. At the University of Nevada I also learned how to function at a fairly high level whilst being hungover, but these came from unsanctioned events. With that said, I feel the need to review Kevin Johnson’s Hall of Fame credentials.

Last month I wrote the article ‘Kevin Johnson Isn’t a Hall of Famer’ and I feel the need to draft my own  rebuttal with my most objective mind. With that said: KJ is a Hall of Famer because of the precedent set by previous enshrinees in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Kevin Johnson’s resume:

  • 12 NBA seasons
  • Regular Season career average (725 games): 17.9 ppg, 9.1 apg and 1.5 spg
  • Playoffs career average (105 games): 19.3 ppg, 8.9 apg and 1.3 spg
  • 5x NBA All-Star (1989, 1990, 1991,1992, 1994)
  • 4x All NBA Second Team (1989, 1990, 1991, 1994)
  • 1x All NBA Third Team (1992)
  • NBA Most Improved Player (1989)
  • One NBA Finals appearance (1993)
  • 2x seasons playing at least 80-games (1987, 1988)
  • 6x seasons playing 70-games or less (1992-1997)

Bill Walton was mentioned in the comments section of my previous KJ article and is the poster boy for a short career that leads to the hall of fame.

Walton was drafted 1st overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1974 NBA Draft after leading the UCLA Bruins to a pair of NCAA championships. Before heading to Rip City he snared three-straight College Player of the Year Awards and may have had the best NCAA career since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Due to a string of foot injuries, his NBA career was surrounded by conjecture of what could have been.  

Walton is a member of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary team, which gives credence to the notion that his NBA career played a large role in his hall of fame enshrinement. Yes, when Walton was healthy he was an all time great center. It wouldn’t be blasphemous to put him among the elite big men like Bill Russell, Hakeem Olajuwon, etc. when Walton was healthy – but he never was.

In a similar vein to Walton, Ralph Sampson was the next great big man, but with the coordination of a guard. It never happened.

Sampson is in the Hall of Fame but a large reason for that is his college resume. He was a three-time NCAA Player of the Year at Virginia. In the NBA he was no slouch, but his career was short and injury marred.

  • 9 NBA seasons
  • Regular Season career average (456 games): 15.4 ppg, 8.8 rpg and 2.3 apg
  • Playoffs career average (38 games): 18.7 ppg, 10.5 rpg and 2.9 apg
  • 4x NBA All-Star (1983-1987)
  • NBA Rookie of the Year (1984)
  • 3x seasons playing at least 79-games (1983-1985)
  • 6x seasons playing 61-games or less (1986-1991)
  • Sampson played in 61.8% regular season games in his career

He exploded out of the gate with the Houston Rockets averaging 20.7 ppg and 10.9 rpg in his first three-seasons. Sampson missed three games in his first three seasons and was an All Star in each season. With Olajuwon, the Rockets made it to the 1986 Finals but fell to the last great team of the Larry Bird era Boston Celtics. Ironically, Sampson was occasionally matched up against Walton in that series.

Sampson never played more than 61-games in any of his remaining six-seasons and was largely forgotten by the end of his once promising career. Like Walton, Sampson’s career was too brief because of health issues but he was great when he was on the court.

Drazen Petrovic career was not cut short by injuries but by his tragic death at the age of 28.  A life too brief. A career too short. The Croatia native was a pioneer in his sport, both for his country and all international players.

  • 5 NBA seasons
  • Regular Season career average (290 games): 15.4 ppg, 2.3 rpg and 2.4 apg
  • Playoffs career average (29 games): 10.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg and 1.4 apg
  • 1x NBA All-Star (1993)
  • FIBA’s 50 Gretatest Players

Petrovic played in the NBA for only five-seasons, and only two as a starter for his final two-seasons, but he was one of the catalyst for the NBA going international and bringing in European players. I’ll let a man with greater knowledge and dominion than myself put Drazen’s legacy in perspective. 

“Dražen Petrović was an extraordinary young man, and a true pioneer in the global sports of basketball,” former NBA Commissioner David Stern said.”I know that a lasting part of his athletic legacy will be that he paved the way for other international players to compete successfully in the NBA. His contributions to the sport of basketball were enormous.”

Next: From Bad Seasons Come Great Players

Is KJ Hall of Fame material? Yes, indeed and he will likely get there sooner than later. His resume shines as much as three aforementioned NBA legends but maybe people need to be reminded of how he great he was. Memories fade and as basketball fans we have a tendency to focus on the flavor of the month but KJ  was great by any measure of success.

I am one of those basketball fans that forgot how great Johnson was and for that I apologize.