On Thursday, April 25th, 2019 the legendary, John Havlicek, unfortunately died at age 79. Havlicek was one of the greatest basketball players that ever lived, and he will be remembered as the pride and joy of the Boston Celtics forever by all.
Havlicek was drafted out of Ohio State University by Boston in 1962 and played his entire 16-year NBA career for the Celtics. He was known for his stamina and his coach, Red Auerbach, characterized him as being the guts of the team. He revolutionized the swingman position in basketball which is a guard/forward hybrid. He was a prolific scorer but was also unmistakably known for his relentless defensive play as well.
Statement from the Boston Celtics Organization:
“John Havlicek is one of the most accomplished players in Boston Celtics history, and the face of many of the franchise’s signature moments. He was a great champion both on the court and in the community, winning 8 NBA championships and an NBA Finals MVP, while holding Celtics career records for points scored and games played.
Named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, he is enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame and his retired #17 hangs in the Garden rafters. His defining traits as a player were his relentless hustle and wholehearted commitment to team over self. He was extraordinarily thoughtful and generous, both on a personal level and for those in need, as illustrated by his commitment to raising money for The Genesis Foundation for Children for over three decades through his fishing tournament. John was kind and considerate, humble and gracious. He was a champion in every sense, and as we join his family, friends, and fans in mourning his loss, we are thankful for all the joy and inspiration he brought to us.”
Regular Season Career Statistics:
Havlicek played for the Boston from 1962 to 1978, and he still holds Celtics’ franchise records for most games played (1,270), most minutes played (46,471), and most points scored (26,395). John totaled 8007 rebounds, 6114 assists, 476 steals, 117 blocks, and 204 turnovers.
Playoff Career Statistics:
The legendary player participated in 172 games while clocking a total of 6,860 minutes, and he scored 3,776 points in the postseason. John racked up 1,186 rebounds, 825 assists, 60 steals, and 16 blocks in the NBA playoffs.
Basketball Accomplishments and Awards
- 8× NBA champion (1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1974, 1976)
- NBA Finals MVP (1974)
- 13× NBA All-Star (1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978)
- 4× All-NBA First Team (1971, 1972, 1973, 1974)
- 7× All-NBA Second Team (1964, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1975, 1976)
- 5× NBA All-Defensive First Team (1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976)
- 3× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1969, 1970, 1971)
- NBA All-Rookie First Team (1963)
- No. 17 retired by Boston Celtics
- NBA 35th Anniversary Team
- NBA 50th Anniversary Team
- NCAA champion (1960)
- Consensus second-team All-American (1962)
- Third-team All-American – AP (1961)
- No. 5 retired by Ohio State
Other Interesting Facts:
Also drafted by the Cleveland Browns of the NFL in 1962 as a wide receiver, Havlicek only played briefly with the Browns in training camp before deciding to focus strictly on playing basketball for his beloved Boston Celtics.
He was selected as an alternate of the 1960 United States national team that competed in the 1960 Summer Olympics. Keep in mind that was the year he won the NCAA championship with Ohio State and 2 years prior to going pro (NBA).
Havlicek was nicknamed “Hondo” influenced by the 1953 movie with the same name starring, John Wayne.
The “sixth man” role was pioneered by him, and the number of minutes per game John put in was amazing especially for how hard his style of play was. He often played around 45 of the 60 minutes in a game while going hard the whole time on both ends of the court.
Arguably his most famous moment as a player came during the closing seconds of game 7 in the 1965 Eastern Conference championship against the Philadelphia 76ers. John had a clutch steal in which his back was turned to the inbounding opponent, and instinctually he did a spin move jumping into the passing lane just enough to tip the ball to Sam Jones which prevented Philly from taking a game-winning shot attempt.
He ended up investing much of his money into the fast food chain, Wendy’s, while it was in its infancy. The investments ended up paying off very well, and he was able to live very comfortably due to this financial endeavor. He had no interest in coaching or working again after basketball.
Although I never had the privilege of watching Havlicek play ball, I can easily say that he was an inspiring person. He worked hard, was a leader, and overall like Michael Jordan, John was a winner.