Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Had to post something about the passing of former Washington Bullet guard Charles (CJ) Johnson. He was an important member of the 1978 Bullets team that won their only NBA title. I became a Bullets fan in the early '70's when I went to a couple games at Cole Field House. The Bullets new arena, the Capital Centre, wasn't finished yet so the Bullets played some home games on the University of Maryland campus during the early part of the '73-'74 season.

Let's go back to January 1978. Bullet GM Bob Ferry signed CJ to a 10 day contract as the Bullets were decimated with injuries, suiting up just seven players against Phoenix one night. I remember the play by play voice of the Bullets Frank Herzog moaning about how can the Bullets compete with just seven players.

CJ was signed and arrived at the Cap Centre via helicopter just in time for his first game. He was signed as a reserve but occasionally started during his two seasons with the team and he became a fan favorite with his hustle. He always played hard and seemed to nail the clutch shot when teams focused primarily on Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes and Bob Dandridge.

Bullets fans remember that CJ had one of the all time great moments in Bullets history as he hit a half court shot as the buzzer sounded to end of the third quarter of game 7 in Seattle. That fired up the Bullets as they won game seven and the title 105-99. I remember Herzog's call "CJ with the ball....the long shot issssss GOOOOOODDD!!!! He hit it at mid court...from the right side! Everything is breaking the Bullets way!" Ok, so it's not as famous as Celtics announcer Johnny Most classic "Havlicek stole the ball!! It's all over… It's all over!!" but it's something I won't ever forget as I was a sophmore in high school when the Bullets beat Seattle that year. Somewhere in this house I have a cassette tape of the final half of this game.

Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes and Bob Dandridge were the heart of that championship squad but CJ was the final piece to a very talented team that always seemed to fall short in the playoffs. Teammate Phil Chenier summed it up best about CJ in an article I read earlier today. "He was an incredible defensive player, he seemed to be the type of player who never got riled or nervous".

CJ was 58. He had cancer.

RIP CJ. I won't ever forget that shot.

Bullets Fever!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Best uniforms ever!