Kevin Johnson had a significant impact on the Phoenix Suns during his NBA career. He spent 12 seasons in Phoenix and was named to multiple all-star teams. Johnson would help Phoenix make it to the NBA finals in 1993.
After his playing career ended, Johnson went back to his hometown and served in a prominent role. He was well respected in Phoenix, even off the basketball court.
Kevin Johnson’s NBA career
The Cleveland Cavaliers had the seventh pick in the 1987 NBA draft, and they decided to go with Johnson. He did not spend his entire season with Cleveland. In 52 games, he averaged 7.3 points per game with the Cavaliers. Toward the latter half of the season, Johnson was traded to the Suns. He played in 28 games, started in 25 and finished the season averaging 12.6 points and 8.7 assists per game.
In his sophomore season in the league, his numbers improved tremendously. Johnson played and started in all 81 games and finished the season averaging 20.4 points and 12.2 assists. He quickly established himself as one of the top point guards in the NBA early on in his career. Johnson also shot the ball at a high-level. During the 1988-89 season, he shot 50 percent from the field and 88 percent from the free-throw line. That season he joined NBA greats, Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas as the only players to average 20 points and 12 assists in a season.
Johnson made a swift improvement in his game from year one to year two. That allowed him to receive the Most Improved Player award for the 1988-89 season. In the next few seasons, Johnson took his game to the next level. Johnson made the all-star game during the 1989-90 season and the 1990-91 season. In both seasons, he averaged over 20 points per game, and he averaged double digits in assists as well.
Kevin Johnson’s first NBA finals appearance
Not only was Johnson having success as an individual, but the Suns were becoming one of the top teams in the Western Conference. During the 1993 playoffs, they finally made it to the NBA finals after failing to make it in the past four years. The Suns would match up with the Chicago Bulls, who were looking to win their third straight title.
The Suns gave the Bulls all they could handle, but in the end, the Bulls would win their third consecutive NBA title defeating the Suns 4-2. Johnson played a pretty good series in the finals as he was tied for second on the team in scoring averaging 17.2 points in six games.
That was the last time the Suns made it to the finals. Johnson would make the all-star team for the final time in his career a year after the Suns went to the finals. Johnson faced an injury late in his career, and he retired after the 1997-98 season. But he didn’t stay retired for long. During the 1999-00 season, Johnson came back to help the Suns in the playoffs. In nine playoff games, he only averaged 3.2 points. Johnson finished his career averaging 17.9 points, 9.1 assists, and 3.3 rebounds per game. He played in three all-star games and was an All-NBA selection five times. The Suns retired his jersey in 2001, and he was inducted into the Suns’ Ring of Honor.
Life after basketball for Kevin Johnson
Eight years removed from the league, Johnson decided that we would run for Mayor of Sacramento, his hometown. He was named the 55th Mayor of Sacramento and served from 2008 to 2016.
Even after his basketball career was over, Johnson continued to have an impact on those around him. He was well-respected in the NBA, and that continued as he went into politics.