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SoCal Legends: Marques Johnson
By Amanda Scurlock, Sports Writer
Published February 11, 2021

Five-time NBA All Star Marques Johnson was a star player for the Crenshaw Cougars and UCLA Bruins (Facebook photo)

Marques Johnson made historical strides in basketball; he ultimately had an All-Star NBA career.  He also was an actor, starring in several movies including “White Men Can’t Jump,” along with being a sports analyst and radio host. Johnson is currently a television color commentator for the Milwaukee Bucks.

His dominant career began at Crenshaw High school under the tutelage of legendary boys’ basketball coach Willie West. Johnson helped initiate the winning legacy of the team; in his last two seasons, the Cougars had a 32-0 overall record. During his senior year, Johnson averaged 26.4 points and 18 rebounds per game.

In 1973, he became the Los Angeles City Section 4-A Division Player of the Year. Johnson then attended UCLA to play on the men’s basketball team, under the direction of legendary coach John Wooden.  As a sophomore, he helped the Bruins win their 10th national championship title.

Johnson (right) poses with legendary UCLA coach John Wooden and the John R Wooden Award trophy (Facebook photo)

Johnson gave the Bruins 21.1 points and 11.1 rebounds per game as a senior. His successful college career led him to become the inaugural John R. Wooden Award winner. He also won several top honors, including the Naismith College Player of the Year and USBWA College Player of the Year.

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In 1977, Johnson became the third overall pick in the NBA Draft; he was acquired by the Milwaukee Bucks. As a rookie, Johnson averaged 19.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game, helping the Bucks earn a playoff berth. Johnson then averaged 24.0 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists in nine playoff games, helping the Bucks reach the second round. He was named on the NBA All-Rookie First Team for his efforts.

During his sophomore season, Johnson averaged a career high of 25.6 points per game along with 7.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. He was the third leading scorer of the NBA during that season. Johnson competed for the Bucks from 1977-1984, helping them get six Playoff appearances. In the NBA Playoffs, Johnson contributed 21.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists.

Johnson is also a five time NBA All Star, playing alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Erving, and James Worthy.

He then spent three seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers and his final season with the Golden State Warriors.  During his NBA career, Johnson averaged 20.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game.

Johnson (8) played three seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers (Facebook Photo)

In 1996, UCLA retired Johnson’s No. 54 jersey and he was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame. Johnson was also inducted into the California Sports Hall of Fame and Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame. The Milwaukee Bucks retired his no. 8 jersey in March 2019.

Johnson’s son Kris also became a standout with the Crenshaw Cougars and the UCLA Bruins. They became the first father-son duo to win the L.A. City Section 4-A Division Player of the Year. They are also the first father-son duo to win an NCAA Championship for the same school.

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Categories: Basketball | Local | Sports
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