February 4, 1929|
|Died||September 28, 1978
|Listed height||6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)|
|Listed weight||210 lb (95 kg)|
|High school||Chillicothe (Chillocothe, Ohio)|
|College||Ohio State (1946–1948)|
|Pro playing career||1951–1959|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
|Basketball Hall of Fame as player|
Donald Neil Johnston (February 4, 1929 – September 28, 1978) was an American Hall of Fame basketball player at the center position who played eight years in the National Basketball Association (NBA), from 1951 to 1959.
Johnston signed a professional baseball contract with the Philadelphia Phillies out of college and pitched two-and-a-half years for the Terre Haute Phillies of the Three-I League. With a 3–9 record halfway through his third losing season in 1951, Johnston decided to give pro basketball a try. With the assistance of his manager, Jim Ward, he tried out for the Philadelphia Warriors at the team camp in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
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 minutes played in the 1952–53 season, 1953–54 season and in field goal percentage in the 1952-53 and 1955–56 season and 1956–57 season. He led the NBA in Win Shares for five consecutive seasons.
Johnston played his entire career with the Philadelphia Warriors, playing on their championship team in 1956. He played in six NBA All-Star Games, was an All-NBA First Team selection four times, and was an All-NBA Second Team selection once.
During his career, the 6-foot, 8-inch Johnston was well known for his sweeping right-handed hook shot.
Johnston was forced to retire after a serious knee injury in the 1958–59 season. 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.
After his playing career, Johnston coached the Warriors to a 95–59 record for the first two seasons of Wilt Chamberlain's NBA career. He also worked as an assistant coach at Wake Forest University under Jack McCloskey.
In addition, Johnston coached the Pittsburgh Rens and Connie Hawkins of the American Basketball League. He also coached the Wilmington Blue Bombers of the Eastern Basketball League. In 1972, he was an assistant coach with the Portland Trailblazers. His last job was as athletic director at North Lake College in Irving, Texas.
In 1980, Johnston was inducted posthumously into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.
In 2005, he was inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame.
- List of individual National Basketball Association scoring leaders by season
- List of National Basketball Association season minutes leaders
- Alex Sachare, 100 Greatest Basketball Players of all Time (1997) ISBN 0-671-01168-5
- "Neil Johnston Joins Wake Coaching Staff"
- Association for Professional Basketball Research American Basketball League page
- died in 1978, while playing basketball in Bedford, Texas,
- Neil Johnston at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
- Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame profile
- Neil Johnston statistics on Basketball-Reference (as a player)
- Neil Johnston statistics on Basketball-Reference (as a coach)
- Neil Johnston at Find a Grave