Neil Johnston

Donald Neil Johnston (February 4, 1929 – September 28, 1978) was an American basketball player and coach. A center, Johnston played in the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1951 to 1959. He was a member of the Philadelphia Warriors for his entire career. Known for his hook shot, Johnston was a six-time NBA All-Star; he led the NBA in scoring three times and led the league in rebounding once. He won an NBA championship with the Warriors in 1956. After his playing career ended due to a knee injury, Johnston coached in the NBA, in other professional basketball leagues, and at the collegiate level. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player in 1990.

Neil Johnston
Personal information
Born(1929-02-04)February 4, 1929
Chillicothe, Ohio
DiedSeptember 28, 1978(1978-09-28) (aged 49)
Irving, Texas
NationalityAmerican
Listed height6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Listed weight210 lb (95 kg)
Career information
High schoolChillicothe (Chillicothe, Ohio)
CollegeOhio State (1946–1948)
Playing career1951–1959
PositionCenter
Number6
Coaching career1959–1963
Career history
As player:
19511959Philadelphia Warriors
1961–1962Pittsburgh Rens
As coach:
19591961Philadelphia Warriors
1961–1963Pittsburgh Rens
Career highlights and awards
Career playing statistics
Points10,023 (19.4 ppg)
Rebounds5,856 (11.3 rpg)
Assists1,269 (2.5 apg)
Stats at Basketball-Reference.com
Career coaching record
NBA95–59 (.617)
Basketball Hall of Fame as player
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2006

Early lifeEdit

Johnston was born on February 4, 1929.[1] He was a 1946 graduate of Chillicothe High School in Chillicothe, Ohio, where he was an all-state player in basketball.[2] Johnston attended Ohio State University, where he played both baseball and basketball.[3]

Johnston signed a professional baseball contract with the Philadelphia Phillies after two years of college. After failing to distinguish himself in minor league baseball, he tried out for the NBA's Philadelphia Warriors at the team camp in Hershey, Pennsylvania in 1951 and was signed to a contract.[4]

Professional basketball careerEdit

Johnston played for the Philadelphia Warriors from 1951 to 1959. He spent his entire playing career with the Warriors.[5][6] The 6'8 Johnston was known for his sweeping right-handed hook shot.[7]

Johnston led the NBA in scoring for three consecutive seasons: 1952–53, 1953–54, and 1954–55. During the 1954–55 season, he also won the league's rebounding title. He led the league in field goal percentage in the 1952–53, 1955–56, and 1956–57 seasons.[8][1]

Johnston was a member of the Warriors' NBA championship-winning 1956 team. He played in six NBA All-Star Games,[4] was an All-NBA First Team selection four times, and was an All-NBA Second Team selection once.[2]

Johnston was forced to retire after the 1958–59 season due to a knee injury.[4][8] During his eight-year career, he averaged 19.4 points per game, 11.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists, with a field goal percentage of .444 and a free throw percentage of .768.[1]

Coaching careerEdit

After his playing career ended, Johnston was head coach of the Philadelphia Warriors during the 1959–60 and 1960–61 seasons before resigning. Johnston coached the Warriors during the first two seasons of Wilt Chamberlain's NBA career, compiling a record of 95-59. He also worked as an assistant coach under Jack McCloskey with the Portland Trail Blazers and at Wake Forest University.[4] Johnston coached the Pittsburgh Rens of the American Basketball League and the Wilmington Blue Bombers of the Eastern Basketball League;[4][8] in addition, he coached at Chemeteka Community College.[9] His last job was as athletic director at North Lake College in Irving, Texas.[10]

Death and legacyEdit

On September 28, 1978, Johnston died of a heart attack at age 49 while playing basketball with his son in Bedford, Texas.[11][4]

In 1980, Johnston was inducted into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.[12] In 1990, he was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame[8][13] and the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame.[2] Johnston was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.[14]

NBA career statisticsEdit

Legend
  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
 †  Won an NBA championship  *  Led the league

Regular seasonEdit

Year Team GP MPG FG% FT% RPG APG PPG
1951–52 Philadelphia 64 15.5 472 .662 5.3 0.6 6.0
1952–53 Philadelphia 70 45.2* .452* .700 13.9 2.8 22.3*
1953–54 Philadelphia 72 45.8* .449 .747 11.1 2.8 24.4*
1954–55 Philadelphia 72 40.5 .440 .766 15.1 3.0 22.7*
1955–56 Philadelphia 70 37.1 .457* .801 12.5 3.2 22.1
1956–57 Philadelphia 69 36.7 .447* .826 12.4 2.9 22.8
1957–58 Philadelphia 71 33.9 .429 .819 11.1 2.3 19.5
1958–59 Philadelphia 28 14.0 .329 .784 5.0 0.8 6.3
Career 516 35.5 .444 .768 11.3 2.5 19.4
All-Star 6 22.0 .429 .696 8.6 1.0 11.7

PlayoffsEdit

Year Team GP MPG FG% FT% RPG APG PPG
1952 Philadelphia 3 10.7 .500 .750 3.3 0.3 5.3
1956 Philadelphia 10 39.7 .408 .707 14.3 5.1 20.3
1957 Philadelphia 2 42.0 .321 .667 17.5 4.5 19.0
1958 Philadelphia 8 23.96 .385 .818 8.6 1.8 10.9
Career 23 30.5 .390 .734 11.2 3.3 15.0

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c "Neil Johnston Stats". Basketball-Reference.com.
  2. ^ a b c "Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame". ohiobasketballhalloffame.com.
  3. ^ "'A Night for Neil' to raise statue funds". Chillicothe Gazette.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Fitzpatrick, Frank (November 23, 2019), "Neil Johnston, Philadelphia's forgotten Hall of Famer", Philadelphia Inquirer
  5. ^ Mujaddidi, Moneer. "10 Greatest Golden State Warriors of All Time". Bleacher Report.
  6. ^ Mathur, Ashish (April 9, 2020). "Best Centers In Warriors History, Ranked". ClutchPoints.
  7. ^ D'Adamo, Vince. "Vince D'Adamo: Golden State Warriors Dream Team mix of new, ancient players". Napa Valley Register.
  8. ^ a b c d "The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame :: Neil Johnston". www.hoophall.com.
  9. ^ "Neil Johnston, NBA Hall of Famer, Obituary, Statesman Journal (Salem, OR), September 29, 1978". September 29, 1978. p. 1 – via newspapers.com.
  10. ^ Grasso, John (November 15, 2010). Historical Dictionary of Basketball. ISBN 9780810875067.
  11. ^ Balusik, Chris. "Work advances for NBA star's statue at CHS". Chillicothe Gazette.
  12. ^ "Throwback Thursday (Class of 1980)". Pasportshof.org. February 17, 2016.
  13. ^ "Hayes, Bing, Monroe in Hall of Fame : Basketball: Neil Johnston, a scoring champion in the 1950s, is also selected for May 15 induction". Los Angeles Times. February 9, 1990.
  14. ^ "Donald Neil Johnston". CollegeBasketballExperience.com. Retrieved January 12, 2021.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit