Today’s #TBT sports blog rewinds the clock to the 1989 and 1990 NBA seasons.
During those back-to-back Detroit Pistons championship years, starting guards Isaiah Thomas and Joe Dumars were voted Most Valuable Players in the NBA Finals respectively.
However, muscular back-up guard Vinnie Johnson emerged as the team’s unwitting celebrity as he became known as the team’s Most Valuable Appliance.
That’s because all NBA fans knew Johnson as the Microwave.
According to NBA.com writer John Maxwell, “The Microwave was one of the most colorful and appropriate nicknames in recent sports history.”
The Microwave Nickname
Johnson’s instant offense and rugged defense, coupled with an irrepressible nickname, also made him the #1 choice in my sports comic book titled NBA Favorites.
Vinnie Johnson earned the Microwave nickname as an electrifying scorer off the bench for the Pistons. Johnson was the great sixth man for the Pistons that brought immediate scoring off the bench. When entering the game, he never needed time to defrost. His energy level, or power, was always set on a microwave high.
During the 1985 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the favored Boston Celtics, Johnson scored an incredible 22 points in the fourth quarter during the Pistons’ 102 – 99 comeback victory. Johnson’s scoring led Celtics star guard Danny Ainge to remark, “If that guy (William Perry) in Chicago is the Refrigerator, then Vinnie Johnson is the Microwave. He sure heated up in a hurry.”
Before his kitchen appliance fame, the Seattle Supersonics drafted the Microwave as their number one draft choice in the 1979 NBA Draft. Johnson’s draft status was high following his amazing senior season at Baylor. The 6’2” and 200 lbs. guard played two seasons in Seattle before being traded to the Pistons. In Detroit, he remained with the franchise for the next 10 years. The Pistons eventually honored Johnson by retiring his number 15 jersey in 1994.
Vinnie Johnson’s NBA Playoff Highlight
This solidly built NBA guard finished his career in 1992 with 11,825 total points. His greatest NBA moment occurred with 00.7 seconds remaining in Game 5 of the 1990 NBA Finals. Johnson’s 15 foot game winning shot helped the Pistons defeat the Portland Trailblazers 92 – 90 and capture their second consecutive NBA Championship. Johnson was never named to an NBA All-Star team.
Yet, Vinnie Johnson’s Microwave label earned him top billing here in NBA Favorites. His clever moniker is sure to heat up and quickly decide any debate about whose nickname is tops in NBA history.
That’s because scores of NBA fans like me also loved the Microwave!
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MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!