Dennis Johnson, the star NBA guard who was part of three championship teams, died yesterday after collapsing at the end of his NBA Development League team's practice. He was 52.
Johnson, coach of the Austin Toros, was unconscious and in cardiac arrest when paramedics arrived at Austin Convention Center, said Warren Hassinger, spokesman for Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services.
Paramedics tried to resuscitate him for 23 minutes before he was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead, Hassinger added. Mayra Freeman, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office, said there will be an autopsy.
The Toros postponed home games tonight and tomorrow night, the NBA Development League said.
"He was one of the most underrated players in the history of the game, in my opinion, and one of the greatest Celtic acquisitions of all time," said former Boston teammate Danny Ainge, now the Celtics' executive director of basketball operations.
"D.J. was a free spirit and a fun personality who loved to laugh and play the game. We had spoken at length just the other night about basketball and his excitement about coaching the Austin Toros."
Toros spokeswoman Perri Travillion said she was talking with Johnson on the sidewalk outside the building when he collapsed. Johnson was joking about getting a parking ticket.
"We were laughing," she said. "He just collapsed."
Travillion said she called 911 and that Johnson never regained consciousness. She said Johnson did not appear to have overexerted himself at practice and didn't complain of any discomfort before he collapsed.