Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday …Marques Johnson

Johnson was selected third overall in the 1977 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, who were coached by Don Nelson. Johnson helped lead Milwaukee to several division titles (1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984). In his second season in 1978–79, he was the NBA’s third leading scorer (25.6 PPG), behind George Gervin (29.6) and Lloyd Free (28.8). Johnson claims to have coined the term “point forward”, a position he played out of necessity in 1984. During the 1984 playoffs, Milwaukee became short on point guards due to injuries. Nelson instructed Johnson to set up the offense from his forward position. Johnson responded, “OK, so instead of a point guard, I’m a point forward”. However, Dell Harris, then-Bucks assistant coach, claims that he first mentioned the term to Nelson. Johnson and the Bucks reached as far as the Eastern Conference Finals twice, in 1983 and again in 1984.

In the 1984 offseason, Nelson—who was also Bucks general manager—traded Johnson, forward-guard Junior Bridgeman, forward Harvey Catchings and cash to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for forward Terry Cummings, and guards Craig Hodges and Ricky Pierce. This was a homecoming for Johnson, as he grew up and attended high school just a few miles from the Clippers’ home at Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. The Clippers struggled to win. During a game in the 1986–87 season, Johnson suffered a neck injury, which effectively ended his career. Johnson made a brief comeback during the 1989–90 season, playing only 10 games with the Warriors before retiring on December 27, 1989.
Smallthoughts: Old School Tuesday salutes …Marques Johnson.

Career information

High school

Crenshaw (Los Angeles, California)


UCLA (1973–1977)

NBA draft

1977 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3rd overall

Selected by the Milwaukee Bucks

Pro playing career


Career history


Milwaukee Bucks


Los Angeles Clippers


Golden State Warriors

Career highlights and awards

5× NBA All-Star (1979–1981, 1983, 1986)
All-NBA First Team (1979)
2× All-NBA Second Team (1980–1981)
NBA All-Rookie First Team (1978)
NCAA champion (1975)
College national player of the year (1977)
Consensus first team All-American (1977)
Pac-10 Player of the Year (1977)
No. 54 retired by UCLA
Pac-10 Hall of Honor

Career NBA statistics


13,892 (20.1 ppg)


4,817 (7.0 rpg)


2,502 (3.6 apg)

Stats at
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2013

Published by bklynboy59

Welcome to Smallthoughtsinasportsworld. We keep it fun and we keep interesting and informative. On Tuesdays we go back in time with Old School Tuesdays, on Thursdays we keep it fun by Smallthoughts Trivia Thursday and on Fridays is Smallthoughts: Rant of the Week and Smallthoughts:Rave of the Week and we also post the answer from Smallthoughts:Trivia Thursday. I am a lifelong New York Mets, Knicks and Jets and Giants fan. I root hard for my teams and have rooted for them even when it wasn't and in some cases still isn't easy. I enjoy talking sports, and on here I get to write about it as well. I have my thoughts hence Small thoughts, we will not always agree, but respectfully speak about what we feel. I invite your comments and feedback as well. You can also follow me on twitter @bklynboy59 and facebook Jerry bklynboy Small

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