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Kevin Maurice Johnson

Assumed office 
December 2, 2008
Preceded by Heather Fargo

Born March 4, 1966 (1966-03-04) (age 44)
Sacramento, California
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Michelle Rhee (engaged)[1]
Profession Basketball player, Politician
Kevin Johnson
Position(s) Guard
Jersey #(s) 11, 7
Listed height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Listed weight 190 lb (86 kg)
Born March 4, 1966 (1966-03-04) (age 44)
Sacramento, California
Career information
Year(s) 1987–2000
NBA Draft 1987 / Round: 1 / Pick: 7

Selected by Cleveland Cavaliers

College California
Professional team(s)
Career stats (NBA)
Points     13,127
Rebounds     2,404
Assists     6,711
Stats @
Career highlights and awards
Medal record
Competitor for  United States
World Championships
Gold 1994 Canada National team

Kevin Maurice Johnson (born March 4, 1966) is the current mayor of Sacramento, California. He is Sacramento's first African American mayor.[2] Prior to entering politics Johnson was a basketball player in the NBA, playing point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Phoenix Suns. As a basketball player, he was a three-time NBA All-Star and five-time All-NBA selection who holds many records for the Phoenix Suns franchise.[3] At University of California, Berkeley, Johnson had been a two-time All-Pac 10 Conference player who was also an honorable-mention All-American by the Associated Press sportswriters.[4][5]

As mayor of Sacramento, Johnson has met with President Obama and his administration three times about critical regional issues. He regularly consults with the nation's leading mayors, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; Washington D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty; San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom; Newark Mayor Cory Booker; and Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, among others. Johnson has served as a guest commentator on several networks including CNN, MSNBC, and Fox, and has been featured on Larry King Live, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dateline NBC and The Colbert Report.


Early life

Johnson was born and raised in Sacramento, the son of Georgia West and Lawrence Johnson. After Johnson's father drowned in an accident in the Sacramento River, he was raised by the Peat family, Johnson's grandparents. He would go on to become a local standout at Sacramento High School, where he starred in both baseball and basketball, leading the state of California in scoring as a senior (32.5 ppg).

Basketball career


University of California

Despite excelling at two sports in high school, Johnson decided to play basketball exclusively at the collegiate level, and accepted a scholarship to play basketball for the University of California at Berkeley. Playing all four seasons, Johnson ended his college basketball career in 1987 as the school's all-time leader in assists, steals, and scoring (since eclipsed by Lamond Murray and Jerome Randle). He was also the first player in the Pac-10 Conference to post a "triple-double" in the statistics, and he was named to the Pac-10's all-conference First Team in both his junior and senior seasons, averaging 17.2 points and 5.0 assists in his final basketball season. His number 11 is retired. Originally drafted in 1986 to play professional baseball with the Oakland Athletics as an infielder, Johnson spent his collegiate summers with the A's minor-league team in Modesto, California, but after being advised by a scout that his future was in basketball, Johnson never looked back to baseball, and he was the seventh selection overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1987 NBA Draft.

Phoenix Suns

Originally drafted to challenge the incumbent point guard Mark Price of Georgia Tech for the starting spot, Johnson found himself on the bench as Price's backup during the 1987-88 NBA season, since Price significantly improved during training camp and convincingly won the starting job. On February 28, 1988, Johnson (along with his teammates Mark West and Tyrone Corbin) was traded to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for the forward Larry Nance, Mike Sanders, and a future draft pick. Phoenix also received a draft pick in the trade - one that was used the next season to select the Suns stalwart guard Dan Majerle. Adjusting rapidly to the change of scenery and much-increased playing time, Johnson excelled, and he was named the NBA Rookie of the Month in April 1988, averaging 15.1 points, 10.6 assists, 5.6 rebounds, and an .864 free throw percentage for the month.

That next year in his first full season with Phoenix, Johnson emerged, averaging 20.4 points and 12.2 assists to win the NBA's Most Improved Player Award. It was also the first of three straight seasons in which he averaged at least 20.0 points and 10.0 assists, joining Oscar Robertson and Isiah Thomas as the only players in league history to accomplish that feat for three consecutive seasons. From 1989 to 1991 he was selected to the All-NBA Second Team, earning Third Team honors in 1992 and Second Team honors again in 1994. KJ also was selected to the NBA All-Star Team in 1990, 1991, and 1994 and made the playoffs every year of his career after his rookie season. In the 1991 NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte, K.J. wore #41 instead of his familiar #7. Announcers Bob Costas and Mike Fratello speculated it was to honor teammate Mark West who was not picked to participate in the 40th All-Star Game, despite his valuable contributions on the boards and in the trenches for the Suns on a nightly basis.

The 1992-93 Suns, led by Johnson (despite having missed 31 regular season games due to injury and rest and 2 after the NBA suspended him because of a brawl in a game vs. the New York Knicks) and Charles Barkley, posted an NBA-best 62-20 record. Narrowly escaping first round elimination versus the Los Angeles Lakers, the Barkley-led Suns managed to make it to the NBA Finals, where they fell to the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in a four games to two game series. KJ 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. the Bulls. In 1995, the injury-prone KJ was again slowed by injuries but returned to form for the post-season, averaging 24.8 points, 9.3 assists, a .573 field goal percentage, and a .500 three-point field goal percentage in 10 games, including a 46-point, 10-assist effort in a 115-114 Game Seven loss of the Western Conference Semifinals to the eventual champion Houston Rockets. In game four of the previous year's series with eventual champion Houston, in front of a capacity crowd in Phoenix, Johnson completed a remarkable dunk, driving from the baseline, over 7'0" Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon. The shot became an oft-played highlight for the ages and was part of a second consecutive 38-point, 12-assist effort by the point guard.

International competition

In addition to his NBA efforts with the Suns, Johnson also lent his talents to the US national team in the 1994 FIBA World Championship, reuniting with old teammate and rival Mark Price to win the gold medal. Johnson led Dream Team II in both total assists and assists average (3.9 per game) while shooting .500 on two-point field goal attempts (16-32) and .471 (16-34) overall.[6]

Retirement and comeback

Johnson retired after the 1997-98 season, but returned briefly during the 1999-2000 campaign to replace the injured Jason Kidd during the playoff run. Johnson helped the Suns win their first playoff series in five years. After Phoenix lost in the second round to the Los Angeles Lakers, he retired for the second and final time.

Accomplishments and legacy

  • Johnson is one of only three players in NBA history (Isiah Thomas and Magic Johnson are the others) to have averaged at least 20.0 points and 12.0 assists in a season.
  • Johnson is one of only three players in NBA history (Oscar Robertson and Isiah Thomas are the others) to have averaged at least 20.0 points and 10.0 assists in three consecutive seasons.
  • Johnson is one of only four players in NBA history to have averaged at least 20.0 points and 10.0 assists per game in three different seasons.
  • Johnson is one of six players to have averaged at least 15.0 points and 10.0 assists per game over the course of a season while shooting at least .500 from the field.
  • Johnson is one of only two players (the other is Magic Johnson) to have twice averaged at least 20.0 points and 10.0 assists per game over the course of a season while shooting at least .500 from the field. The only other player to produce 20.0/10.0/.500 over the course of a season is Chris Paul.
  • Johnson was the first player in NBA history to average at least 20.0 points, 10.0 assists, a .500 field goal percentage, and 2.0 steals in a season (in '90-'91); he has since been joined in that regard by Chris Paul (in '08-'09).
  • On March 7, 2001, the Suns inducted Johnson into their Ring of Honor and retired his uniform number seven during halftime of a game Phoenix played against the Sacramento Kings, Johnson's hometown team.
  • NBA record holder for minutes in a finals game, playing 62 minutes in 1993 vs. the Chicago Bulls.
  • Three time NBA All-Star.
  • Phoenix Suns all time leader in free throws made, free throws attempted, and in assists.

The Kevin Johnson Corporation

As president and CEO of The Kevin Johnson Corporation, Johnson oversees the operations of several subsidiary organizations specializing in real estate development and management, sports management, and business acquisition. A key component of The Kevin Johnson Corporation includes appearances and public speaking engagements for corporations, academic institutions, and community organizations. Johnson founded the St. Hope Academy in 1989 and served as its CEO until January 2008. St. HOPE is a nonprofit community development corporation whose mission is to revitalize communities through public education, civic leadership, economic development and the arts.

In 2003, St. HOPE formed St. HOPE Public Schools, a pre-K-12 independent charter school system that provides education to nearly 2,000 students in seven small schools.[7][8][9][10]

Political career

Johnson was a 2000 graduate of the Harvard Divinity School Summer Leadership Institute, a program that prepares students for work in faith-based urban economic revitalization. He also has a B.A. in Political Science from UC Berkeley that he completed after his initial retirement from the NBA.

On March 5, 2008, Johnson announced he would run for mayor of Sacramento, his hometown, challenging incumbent Heather Fargo.[11] Election day was June 3, 2008. Since no candidate received a majority of the vote in the nonpartisan election, there was a runoff.

Johnson garnered the endorsement of the Sacramento Police Officers Association (SPOA),[12] the Sacramento Regional Builders Exchange,[13][14] the Chamber of Commerce, Realtors' Association and Labor Council, among others.[15] Johnson was also endorsed by Sacramento City Council members Steve Cohn (Vice Mayor) and Sandy Sheedy, and by former Sacramento Mayor Jimmie Yee.[7]

On June 4, 2008, Kevin Johnson, who led by 8 percentage points, forced a runoff election for mayor versus the 2-term incumbent. 374 of 378 precincts were reported, and Johnson was ahead of Mayor Heather Fargo 47% to 40%. Five other candidates split the rest of the vote.[16] The candidates needed more than 50% to win the election.[17] Third place finisher Leonard Padilla endorsed Mayor Fargo on June 4, 2008.[18] Johnson, by late May, loaned his campaign $ 500,000 and raised $ 490,000, while Fargo raised $ 340,000 despite having started fundraising in 2005.[19]

2008 primary election for mayor of Sacramento

Candidate Votes[20] Outcome
Kevin Johnson 32,160 (46.58%) Runoff
Heather Fargo 27,472 (39.36%) Runoff
Leonard Padilla 4,231 (6.06%) Defeated
Shawn D. Eldredge 2,462 (3.53%) Defeated
Muriel Strand 2,104 (3.01%) Defeated
Richard Jones 679 (0.97%) Defeated
Adam Daniel 407 (0.58%) Defeated
Write-in 280 (0.40%) Defeated

Johnson and Fargo had a runoff election in November, won by Johnson.[21]

2008 runoff election for mayor of Sacramento

Candidate Votes[22] Outcome
Kevin Johnson 92,288 (57.4%) Winner
Heather Fargo 67,348 (41.9%) Defeated

Sexual assault and harassment allegations

During the summer of 1995, a 16-year-old girl alleged that Johnson had fondled her. Johnson apologized to the girl when confronted by her with that accusation during a phone conversation recorded by Phoenix police though he also stated that "what you're saying happened, I'm not entirely agreeing happened."[23] The Sacramento Bee stated that they had received a copy of a proposed settlement agreement, under which Johnson would have paid the girl's family $230,000.[24] After conducting an investigation, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office declined to prosecute, on the grounds that there was not a reasonable likelihood of conviction.[25]

High School investigation

On April 16, 2008, rival mayoral candidate Leonard Padilla distributed a 2007 report of similar allegations made against Johnson at St. HOPE Sacramento High School. The allegations were investigated by local police, but no charges were filed, and the alleged victim recanted her story.[26][27] On April 29, 2008, a group of female civic leaders including former Sacramento Mayor Ann Rudin, Sacramento Municipal Utility District board member Genevieve Shiroma, and former State Senator Deborah Ortiz demanded the release of the police report on the matter.[28] The teacher to whom the student initially brought the complaint subsequently resigned over the incident, claiming, "St. HOPE sought to intimidate the student through an illegal interrogation and even had the audacity to ask me to change my story."[29] Sacramento Police Chief Rick Braziel responded, saying, "I think the allegations at the school were handled in the way that you would want them handled. Immediately they followed all the normal protocols that they were supposed to follow. I think it was pretty clear there was nothing there... We did ask the young lady whether anyone had influenced her — her answer was no."[27] The Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness said on May 30, 2008, that Johnson’s actions, though ill-advised, were not illegal.[30]

St. HOPE Academy's alleged misuse of AmeriCorps funds

On April 9, 2009, Acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence G. Brown announced that St. HOPE Academy had agreed to pay $423,836.50 over ten years in settlement of allegations that it did not appropriately spend AmeriCorps grants and education awards and did not adequately document spending of grants.[31] The settlement amount represented one-half of the $847,673 in AmeriCorps funds received by St. HOPE Academy over three years from 2004 to 2007.[31] Johnson, St. HOPE Academy’s founder and former CEO, agreed to pay $72,836.50 of St. HOPE Academy’s $73,836.50 initial payment.[31] In settlement, St. HOPE Academy acknowledged not adequately documenting a portion of its AmeriCorps grant expenditures, and the Corporation for National and Community Service terminated its September 24, 2008 suspension of St. HOPE Academy and Johnson from receiving federal funds, ending questions about Sacramento’s eligibility to receive federal stimulus funds.[31]

See also


  1. ^ Iovino, J. (2009): Lessons in engagement: Rhee, Johnson reportedly engaged, NBC Washington (November 5, 2009). Retrieved on November 28, 2009.
  2. ^ Lief, Fred (2008-11-05), Sports figures victorious on election night, Associated Press,, retrieved 2008-11-05 
  3. ^ "Kevin Johnson". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2009-01-20. 
  4. ^ "Sports Digest". San Francisco Chronicle. Newbank. 1987-05-19. Retrieved 2009-01-20. 
  5. ^ "Berry No. 1 On AP All-America Team". San Jose Mercury News. Newsbank. 1986-03-11. Retrieved 2009-01-20. 
  6. ^ 1994 USA Basketball
  7. ^ a b Kevin's Biography - Kevin Johnson for Mayor
  8. ^ People, 15 December 2003, Rebound Artist
  9. ^ Kevin Johnson Speaker Bio - Find booking agent contact to book top speakers bureau and celebrities
  10. ^ W.K. Kellogg Foundation: 15 Minutes with Kevin Johnson - Cultures of Giving
  11. ^ Terri Hardy and Marcos Bretón (2008-03-05). "Kevin Johnson announces he is running for mayor". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  12. ^ - Police Assoc. Endorses Kevin Johnson For Mayor
  13. ^ Jason Kobeley (2008-04-03). "Councilmembers Cohn, Sheedy Shift Alliances; Endorse Johnson for Mayor". Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  14. ^ Sacramento Builders Exchange Endorses Kevin | Kevin Johnson for Mayor []
  15. ^ Mary Lynne Vellinga (2008-04-28). "Kevin Johnson endorsed by Realtors". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 2008-04-28. 
  16. ^, 3rd-oldest senator wins nomination for 5th term
  17. ^, Former NBA star headed for runoff in Sacramento mayoral race
  18. ^, Mayor's race outcome still pending
  19. ^, Incumbent mayor, ex-NBA player headed for runoff
  20. ^ Voter Registration and Elections, Sacramento County, California, USA
  21. ^ Sacramento Bee, 5 November 2008, Race for mayor was costly, contentious
  22. ^ [1]
  23. ^ "Can Former Phoenix Sun Kevin Johnson Overcome His Past to Become Sacramento's Mayor?". 2008-05-22. Retrieved 2008-05-22. 
  24. ^ "Johnson agreed to pay teen girl $230,000, draft of document shows". 2008-05-20. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  25. ^ "The Summer of '95". 1997-05-08. Retrieved 2008-05-11. 
  26. ^ "Johnson Considers Defamation Suit Against Padilla". 2008-04-16. Retrieved 2008-04-24. 
  27. ^ a b Terry Hardy and Dorothy Korber (2008-05-07). "Investigation of girl's allegations against Kevin Johnson raises questions". 
  28. ^ "Women Seek Release of Kevin Johnson Files". 2008-04-29. Retrieved 2008-05-11. 
  29. ^ "Investigation of girl's allegations against Kevin Johnson raises questions". 2008-05-07. Retrieved 2008-05-11. 
  30. ^ USA Today, 31 May 2008, Sacramento sheriff won't reopen Johnson probe
  31. ^ a b c d Brown, Lawrence G. (April 9, 2009). "United States settles claims arising out of St. HOPE Academy's spending of AmeriCorps grants and education awards". U.S. Department of Justice. Retrieved 2009-07-03. 
    Lillis, Ryan; Walsh, Denny (April 10, 2009). "Deal involving Mayor Johnson clears way for Sacramento to get U.S. funds". The Sacramento Bee: p. 1A. Retrieved 2009-07-03. 

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