When talking about the great guards in the 90’s there are usually a few names that get mentioned more than the others. It also seems that some of the players were forgotten by the NBA fans over time. One of those players is Kevin Johnson, a phenomenal point guard, especially during his playing days with the Phoenix Suns.
Johnson was a legitimate double-double machine capable of dropping 20 points and 10 assists on any team in the NBA. If you look at his stats, you can’t help but notice he had a profound impact on the success of that Suns squad in the early ’90s that was a true powerhouse in the western conference. Even though they never won a championship, they made their presence felt and are one of those classic NBA teams. Throughout the majority of the ’90s, Kevin Johnson was their starting point guard, and his skillset was admired by other NBA players that had the opportunity to match up against him during those years.
One of those players is none other than Sam Cassell, who had battled Johnson quite a bit in his rookie season while being a member of the Houston Rockets. In a recent interview with Baron Davis on his Point God podcast, Cassell talked about what made Johnson his toughest matchup early on in his career.
Kevin Johnson was a beast. He was a beast and had a unique ability. He had speed, he could stop on a dime, shoot a jumper in your face from the 15 foot. If you get close to him, he would go between his legs and get a layup. He was tough, and he was one of my hardest checks early on. He was hard to guard.Sam Cassell, via Point God
Johnson was a three-time NBA All-Star even though he was deserving of an additional one or two selections in his career based on his numbers. Even though the Cavs drafted him, he was soon traded to the Suns, where he stayed his entire career. Unfortunately, injuries derailed his career, and he retired relatively early from the NBA at 31. Nevertheless, Johnson proved he is an ambitious and intelligent person because soon after his NBA career was over, he got involved in politics. He even served as a major of Sacramento from 2008 to 2016 for the Democratic party, which is remarkable and something not many NBA players or athletes, in general, can say have done.
It’s great to hear guys like Cassell speak out and give their respect to players like Johnson, who become somewhat forgotten by the broad NBA fanbase. He is that type of player that would do even better in today’s NBA because of his unique skillset and rule changes that benefit guards and forwards more than ever before. His explosiveness in combination with efficient shooting and high basketball IQ would make him one of the best point guards in the NBA.