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NBA LEGEND INTERVIEW April 5, 2001
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EXCLUSIVE SPORTS INTERVIEW with 
Celtics legend Dennis Johnson  
By INSIDE HOOPS 

"Now there's a steal by Bird, underneath to D.J., lays it up and in!"

Dennis Johnson is currently an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers. He was the point guard of the championship 80's Celtics teams. We recently met up with D.J. and discussed the good old days.

Jeff Lenchiner:  What are your fondest  memories of being a Celtic?

Dennis Johnson:  Oh, Jesus, with them guys you could pick almost anything. The best though is when we're going to practice, and, our practice team could have been our starting unit at any point, and make no mistake about it, they really could have. So, my fondest memories of the team, is that every day we went to practice, it was almost better than our game, it was probably 90% better than our games that we played, because when we got ready after practice, and we had to go out on the floor to play, we were always ready, and the other [practice] team made sure of that. 

Jeff: And what was it like playing against the lakers, what kind of things went through your mind...

Dennis Johnson: That was geared up in training camp, even though we weren't going to see them for six months. You pick up the paper, you look, you see who they got on their roster, you say, "ok, ok, he'll be there, he'll be there, he'll be there, yeah we can't wait till we get there..." and I guarantee you they did the same thing. A lot of people will tell you that they didn't, but if you sit down one on one with them and you ask them they'll tell you, "oh, yeah..."  they looked at the paper, when we got ready to get there we always made sure we got out here (Los Angeles) two days earlier than the game so we were rested... but we made sure of that and we got ahead so we were rested, so we knew when we threw that ball up, we were ready to go. It was kinda like them coming to us, they knew they were gonna be disliked a lot, and we knew we were gonna be disliked out here, but that just fueled the fire a lot more.

Jeff: Tell me what was special about Larry [Bird] in practice that not everyone would know.

Dennis Johnson:  I don't even know if it was special, I think, he practiced the way he played. And when you say that to people, you honestly got to know the way he played, because the way he played, is the exact way... I mean if the ball was rolling down there it didn't matter if we were in practice, you could guarantee he was gonna take five more steps and dive for it, and that you wouldn't see from anybody. He honestly practiced the way he played, and played the way he practiced, and would never sit out a practice whether he was hurting or not, because I think he always felt that it was his example, that, if he was gonna fight through this, whether it was a cold, whether it was a hurt back, whether it was a sore leg, or anything, then everybody else should be out there. He was never a man of many words, everything he did was action.

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