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A memory of DJ

Posted by Martin Finucane March 10, 2007 08:49 AM

In case you missed it, here's a Letter to the Editor from Leah Leeder of Newton that was published yesterday. It's about a chance encounter with the late great Dennis Johnson in an airpot.

Several years ago I was in Logan Airport, waiting to pass through the security gate. The man in front of me -- a well-dressed, very tall African-American -- passed through the gate, which did not react with beeping. Immediately, three security personnel surrounded him and would not let him walk away.

After I walked through uneventfully, I went over to him and said, "On behalf of all open-minded and accepting Americans, I want to apologize for the behavior of those security guards. I think it is shameful in this day and age for a black man to be persecuted simply because he is well dressed."

The man looked at me and smiled, and said, "You don't know who I am, do you?"

"Should I?"

"My name is Dennis Johnson."

"The Dennis Johnson, DJ of the Celtics, Dennis Johnson?" I answered with my mouth agape.

He smiled and insisted that I stop apologizing for the misunderstanding.

We sat for 20 minutes and had coffee until he was called to his flight, and he was so approachable that I forgot to even get an autograph or some proof of the event.

Dennis Johnson died last month at age 52. I am sorry for his early exit from the game of life. He was an inspirational player and a mensch.

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