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R.I.P. Charles Johnson

Via David Steele's BaltSun blog, I learned that Charles Johnson, he of the championship-winning 1978 Bullets, died early Friday.

"Quiet" seems to be the theme in discussing Johnson. In this San Fran Chronicle story, Phil Chenier says that "C.J. was nicknamed "Mysterious" because he would just disappear for periods of time." Ray Ratto bemoans the fact that C.J.'s passing was not even mentioned on Team Wiz's Web site. Nor was it mentioned in Dick Heller's Washington Times column yesterday, about the '78 Bullets team. Golden State of Mind also has a brief item:

He was Bruce Bowen before the days of constant media coverage allowed guys like that to be stars in their own right. Also a star at Sequoia High and Cal...a true Bay Area Hall of Fame candidate.

Anyhow, I have never met the man, never seen him play, know nothing about him, except that he scored nine points in the fourth quarter of Game 7 in '78. And this, from the championship parade story:

Charles Johnson, the Bullets' expert in cool, wore a black T-shirt and cordoroys on a day he would meet the President. He sat in the car with Hayes, acting casual as usual. After 10 minutes, Johnson shouted with a seriousness in his voice, "Hey E". Hayes looked over. "I love it," Johnson blurted out, his mask unfurled.

But ater the jump I'd like to include this passage from a 1978 Paul Attner WaPo story about Team Bullets, just to make the point that a blogger could probably have done ok back then:

Best eater: rookie Davie Corzine. "Once the food is served on a plane, you don't see him pick up his head," said Bickerstaff. "He just devours his grub."

Best dressed: Henderson and Bob Dandridege! Dandrige occasionally wears a suit, which stuns his predominantly blue jean-clad teammates. Henderson leans to suede shoes and dark glasses.

The worst in this category is Kupchak, although he says he is trying to improve his image.

"I have bought all new clothes," he said. "I have friends in the clothing business." But he has yet to give in and wear socks.

"I gave my only pair to Grevey," he said. "In college, I used to wear boots so Coach (Dean) Smith wouldn't know I had no socks. If he had realized it, he would have killed me."

Kupchak nominates Charles Johnson as the worst dresser. Johnson specializes in outlandish T-shirts and even wore one last June when the team visited the White House after winning the NBA title.

Mike Riordan once owned the worst-dressed category. The former Bullet forward used to travel with no more than a small suitcase and dressed in jeans. Until he showed up at opening night last season to toss up the first ball, some of his teammates thought he didn't own a tie or a sports coat.

Most stamina: Unanimous - Elvin Hayes, the Bionic Body. He says he averages five to six hours of sleep per night, but there is a rumor that he never sleeps. He can be found in hotel lobbies at all hours, moving like a huge, restless cat.

"I've never seen anyone like him," said an admiring Motta. "He can play 48 minutes in a game and never get tired. He knows every inch of every hotel lobby in America."

Hayes also says he rarely eats.

"When we don't play a game, I might eat one meal," he said. "On game days, I'll eat one before and one afterwards. Otherwise I'll gain weight."

By Dan Steinberg  |  June 5, 2007; 2:51 PM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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Next: The Nats Pick Up Trash, Part I


Sad news. Wasn't Johnson the last guy in the NBA to use the underhanded free throw style?

Posted by: Dave Lifton | June 5, 2007 4:42 PM | Report abuse

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