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Retired basketball player, Kevin Johnson was on born March 4, 1966 in Sacramento, California. Johnson is a retired point guard who played for the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns.
Originally drafted to challenge incumbent point guard Mark Price for the starting spot, Johnson found himself on the bench as Price's backup during the 1987-88 NBA season, as Price stepped up his game significantly in training camp and convincingly won the starting job. On February 28, 1988, Johnson (along with teammates Mark West and Tyrone Corbin) was traded to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Larry Nance, Mike Sanders and a future draft pick. Phoenix also received a draft pick in the trade that was used the next season to select Suns' stalwart Dan Majerle. Adjusting rapidly to the change of scenery and much-increased playing time, Johnson excelled, and was named NBA Rookie of the Month in April 1988, averaging 15.1 points, 10.6 assists, 5.6 rebounds, and an .864 free throw percentage for the month.
That next year in his first full season with Phoenix, Johnson emerged, averaging 20.4 points and 12.2 assists to win the NBA's Most Improved Player Award. It was also the first of three straight seasons in which he averaged at least 20.0 points and 10.0 assists, joining Oscar Robertson and Isiah Thomas as the only players in league history to accomplish that feat for three consecutive seasons. From 1989 to 1991 he was selected to the All-NBA Second Team, earning Third Team honors in 1992 and Second Team honors again in 1994. KJ also was selected to the NBA All-Star Team in 1990, 1991, and 1994 and made the playoffs every year of his career after his rookie season. In the 1991 NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte, K.J. wore #41 instead of his familiar #7. Announcers Bob Costas and Mike Fratello speculated it was to honor teammate Mark West who was not picked to participate in the 40th All-Star Game, despite his valuable contributions on the boards and in the trenches for the Suns on a nightly basis.
The 1992-93 Suns, led by Johnson (despite having missed 31 regular season games due to injury and two after being suspended because of a brawl in a game vs. the New York Knicks) and Charles Barkley, posted an NBA-best 62-20 record. Narrowly escaping first round elimination versus the Los Angeles Lakers, the Barkley-led Suns managed to make it to the NBA Finals, where they eventually fell to the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in six games en route to the Bulls' third consecutive title. KJ, having only played in 49 regular season games that year, still averaged 17.8 points and 7.9 assists in the playoffs and established an NBA record for Finals minutes played by logging 62 minutes in Game 3 (a 129-121 triple OT victory) vs. the Bulls. In 1995, the injury-prone KJ was again slowed by injuries but returned to form for the post-season, averaging 24.8 points, 9.3 assists, and a .573 field goal percentage in 10 games, including a 46-point, 10-assist effort in a 115-114 Game Seven loss of the Western Conference Semifinals to the eventual champion Houston Rockets. In Game Four of the previous year's series with eventual champion Houston, in front of a capacity crowd in Phoenix, Johnson completed a spectacular dunk over Rockets' Hakeem Olajuwon driving the baseline and rising above the 7'0" center to throw it down with authority. The shot became an oft-played highlight for that playoff series and for the ages and was part of a second consecutive 38-point, 12-assist effort by the point guard.
In addition to his NBA efforts with the Suns, Kevin Johnson also lent his talents to the US national team in the 1994 FIBA World Championship, reuniting with old teammate and rival Mark Price to win the gold medal. Indeed, K.J. led Dream Team II in both total assists and assists average (3.9) while shooting .500 on two-point field goal attempts (16-32).[
Kevin Johnson retired after the 1997-98 season, but returned briefly during the 1999-2000 campaign to replace the injured Jason Kidd during the playoff run. Johnson helped the Suns win their first playoff series in five years (and their only series victory between 1995 and 2005). But after Phoenix fell in the second round to Los Angeles, he retired for the second and final time. After his second retirement, Johnson spent one season (2000-01) as a studio commentator for The NBA on NBC.
In Phoenix, as president and CEO of The Kevin Johnson Corporation, Johnson oversees the operations of several subsidiary organizations specializing in real estate development and management, sports management, and business acquisition. A key component of The Kevin Johnson Corporation includes appearances and public speaking engagements for corporations, academic institutions, and community organizations. Johnson founded the St. Hope Academy in 1989 and served as its CEO until January 2008. St. HOPE is a nonprofit community development corporation whose mission is to revitalize communities through public education, civic leadership, economic development and the arts.
Kevin Johnson is a 2000 graduate of the Harvard Divinity School Summer Leadership Institute, a program that prepares students for work in faith-based urban economic revitalization. He also has a B.A. in Political Science from UC Berkeley that he completed after his initial retirement from the NBA.
In 2003, St. HOPE formed St. HOPE Public Schools, a pre-K-12 independent charter school system that provides education to nearly 2,000 students in seven small schools.