The Trail Blazers’ 50-year anniversary season is temporarily on pause as the NBA goes on hiatus to slow the spread of COVID-19. During that break, Blazer’s Edge is counting down the top 100 Blazers: players, executives, and other influencers who made the franchise what it is today.
No. 74 | John Johnson
Games Played with Blazers: 158 Regular Season, 0 Postseason
*PTS: 16.0 | REB: 6.7 | AST: 3.4 | FG%: 47.5
*Statistics are pulled from a player’s time in Portland
Joined Club: April 1973, acquired from the Cleveland Cavaliers with Rick Roberson in an exchange of first-round picks
Departed Club: November 1975, Traded to the Houston Rockets for Steve Hawes
Place in History: John Johnson is more famous for his five-year tour of duty with the Seattle Supersonics than his work with the Trail Blazers. In 1978-79 he started all 82 games for the World Champions. averaging 11 points per game. Before that, though, he spent two productive seasons with the Blazers, averaging 16 points with a shooting percentage that any forward of the time could have been proud of.
Johnson was hardly a one-dimensional scorer, though. He resembled the ephemeral modern “point forward” long before the term was even thought of. He could dribble, pass, and make plays. One surmises he would have fit in well with “positionless basketball”. He did alright in his own time as well.
An Oregonian article commemorating Johnson upon his death in 2016 quoted Maurice Lucas, who joined the team a year after Johnson’s departure, describing Johnson’s play:
“He could dribble the ball up as well as a good shooting guard, and he was an aggressive player - kinda dirty - but what I would call ‘Old School’,” Lucas said. “JJ could play.”
If the most aggressive, hard-nosed, willing-to-get-dirty player in franchise history calls YOU “aggressive, kinda dirty, and Old School”, that’s good enough for us. For the points, the style, and the future championship honors with the Sonics, John Johnson earns the 74th spot in Portland’s Top 100 List.
Anybody here remember JJ? Discuss your thoughts and memories of below and check back every day as we continue the countdown to No. 1.