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C.J.!

It slipped under the radar here, but an important player in Bullets history died over the weekend. Important in Washington Bullets history, but still.

Charles Johnson came off the bench for the 1978 championship team after being traded from the Warriors in midseason and played a huge role while Phil Chenier battled injuries (8.3 ppg in the regular season after joining the team, 10.2 in the playoffs, in about 20 minute a game in each). He died Friday of cancer at age 58. He's the first of that team to pass away (in an unfortunate coincidence, he's also the third player to go from the Warriors team that swept the Bullets in the 1975 championship).

If you rooted for those Bullets, you remember the way both the P.A. announcer at Capital Centre and the Bullets' play-by-play man would yell "C.J.!'' when he'd hit another long jumper from a crazy angle. The man loved to shoot, no question, and he did it well.

Here is a very nice tribute to C.J. (who was a Bay Area guy) from my old S.F. Chronicle colleague, Ray Ratto. This one is from the Oakland Tribune. This recollection, from a longtime friend and fellow player, was in a blog on the San Jose Mercury News Web site. The most common theme: he was a quiet yet intense player who poured all of himself into his play during his career, and when he left the game, he kept any problems he had - including his illness - out of the conversation. Sounds like he lived a full life, as brief as it was, and the two championship rings were only part of his legacy.

Comments

Thanks for bringing back memories. When I used to watch NBA ball. Remember the saying, "It aint over til the Fat Lady sings!"?

Your comments on Sheffield were very right on. He is a wonderful person. Loves the LORD and is a **** family man. We must have more people like him in pro sports. He's the real deal. Trust me!

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