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He attended Sacramento High School, where he starred in both baseball and basketball.In his senior year, Johnson led the state of California in scoring (32.5 ppg) and was named the Northern California Player of the Year.NBC announcers Bob Costas and Mike Fratello speculated that the decision represented K.J.'s quiet way of honoring teammate Mark West, the Suns' stoic, largely unrecognized center who thanklessly executed the dirty work on the glass and in the paint.Johnson played point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers during a portion of his rookie year, and for the Phoenix Suns for the remainder of his NBA career. Johnson, the son of Georgia West and Lawrence Johnson, was born March 4, 1966, in Sacramento.During his 12-year playing career, Johnson was a three-time NBA All-Star and four-time second team All-NBA selection, and held numerous records for the Phoenix Suns organization. After his father died in a boating accident when he was three, Johnson was raised by his grandparents, the Peat family.
In the 1991 All-Star Game in Charlotte, Johnson wore number 41 instead of his familiar number 7.
and the Oakland Athletics drafted him as a shortstop in the 23rd round of the 1986 MLB draft.
After playing a couple games with Oakland's minor-league team in Modesto, California during the summer of 1986, Johnson ended his baseball career, finding the road to professional baseball more arduous and risky compared to basketball.
Johnson accepted a scholarship to play basketball for the University of California, Berkeley.
As a four-year starter, Johnson ended his college career in 1987 as the school's all-time leader in assists (since eclipsed by Jason Kidd), steals, and scoring (since eclipsed by Lamond Murray, Sean Lampley, Patrick Christopher, Joe Shipp and Jerome Randle).
Johnson averaged 17.8 points and 7.9 assists in the playoffs and established an NBA record for Finals minutes played by logging 62 minutes in Game 3 (a 129–121 triple-OT victory) vs. But even before Johnson played his first regular season game with Charles Barkley, he suffered an undiagnosed sports hernia in October 1992 when he attempted to lift heavy-set rookie teammate Oliver Miller off the ground during warmups before a preseason game.