John Joseph Havlicek (// HAV-lih-chek; April 8, 1940 – April 25, 2019) was an American professional basketball player who spent his entire career with the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
|Born||April 8, 1940|
Martins Ferry, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||April 25, 2019 (aged 79)|
Jupiter, Florida, U.S.
|Listed height||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)|
|Listed weight||203 lb (92 kg)|
|High school||Bridgeport (Bridgeport, Ohio)|
|College||Ohio State (1959–1962)|
|NBA draft||1962: 1st round, 7th overall pick|
|Selected by the Boston Celtics|
|Position||Small forward / shooting guard|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Points||26,395 (20.8 ppg)|
|Rebounds||8,007 (6.3 rpg)|
|Assists||6,114 (4.8 apg)|
|Stats at NBA.com|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
|Basketball Hall of Fame as player|
|College Basketball Hall of Fame|
Inducted in 2006
A swingman, Havlicek played collegiate basketball for the Ohio State Buckeyes from 1959 to 1962, winning an NCAA championship in 1960. He was drafted by the Celtics in 1962 and played with the team until his retirement in 1978. A 13-time NBA All-Star, Havlicek was named to the All-NBA First Team four times and to the All-NBA Second Team four times. He was also named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team on five occasions and to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team three times. Havlicek is known for his stamina and his hustle as well as his abilities.
During his career with the Celtics, Havlicek won eight NBA championships. He is known for stealing the ball to save the game--and the Celtics' playoff hopes--near the end of Game Seven in the 1965 Eastern Conference Finals. Havlicek served as captain of the Celtics from 1969 to 1978, and was named NBA Finals MVP in 1974. Following his retirement, his number 17 jersey was retired by the Celtics. Havlicek was inducted into Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984.
Early life edit
Havlicek was born in Martins Ferry, Ohio, where his parents ran a general store. He was of Czech and Croatian descent, from his father and mother respectively. Havlicek was a three-sport athlete at Bridgeport High School in Bridgeport, Ohio, where he was a boyhood friend of Baseball Hall of Famer Phil Niekro.
Collegiate career edit
Havlicek played college basketball at Ohio State University with future seven-time NBA All-Star Jerry Lucas, who was his roommate, future first-round NBA draft pick Larry Siegfried, future coaching legend Bobby Knight, and Mel Nowell, among many others. The 1960 Ohio State Buckeyes, coached by head coach Fred Taylor and assistant coaches Jack Graf and Frank Truitt, won the 1960 NCAA title. Havlicek was named as an alternate of the 1960 United States national team that competed in the 1960 Summer Olympics.
Professional career edit
Havlicek was drafted by both the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League in 1962. After competing briefly as a wide receiver in the Browns' training camp that year, he focused his energies on playing for the Celtics. A swingman who could play either guard or forward, he was known for his stamina, with competitors stating that it was a challenge just to keep up with him. Head coach Red Auerbach went on to call him "the guts of the team". Nicknamed "Hondo" (a nickname inspired by the 1953 movie of the same name starring John Wayne), Havlicek revolutionized the "sixth man" role in the NBA coming off the bench for the Celtics during his early years.
Havlicek was later immortalized for his clutch steal in the closing seconds of the 1965 Eastern Conference Finals. In the seventh and final game, played at Boston Garden on April 15, the Celtics led the Philadelphia 76ers 110–109 with five seconds left. They only needed to inbound the ball from underneath their basket to secure the victory and advance to the 1965 NBA Finals. However, Bill Russell's pass struck one of the basket's support wires hanging down from the ceiling, leading to a turnover that gave the 76ers and Wilt Chamberlain the ball and a chance to win the game. Hal Greer was set to throw the inbounds pass for the 76ers. Havlicek stood with his back to Greer, guarding Chet Walker. But as Greer's pass came inbounds, Havlicek spun, leaped, and tipped the pass to Sam Jones. Veteran referee Earl Strom, who wrote about the game in his memoir Calling the Shots, called Havlicek's reaction one of the greatest plays he ever saw in his 32 years as a professional official. Announcer Johnny Most's call of "Havlicek stole the ball!" was dubbed by the NBA as "the most famous radio call in basketball history."
In Game 5 of the 1968 Eastern Division Finals, Havlicek recorded a near triple-double with 29 points, 9 rebounds, and 10 assists as the Celtics avoided elimination at the hands of the 76ers. He added a strong performance in Game 7, recording 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists in a 100–96 road win against the 76ers. In that series, the Celtics became the first NBA team to overcome a 3–1 playoff series deficit.
Havlicek became a full-time starter in the 1969-1970 season. He also became the Celtics' captain in 1969, and continued in that role until 1978. Havlicek "stood as the bridge from the Bill Russell era to the Celtics' next championship team". The Celtics won the 1974 NBA Championship, and Havlicek was named NBA Finals MVP.
With one second left in the second overtime of Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals, Havlicek made a leaning, running bank shot that appeared to be the game-winner. Phoenix called an illegal timeout, resulting in a technical foul shot converted by Jo Jo White. However, Phoenix still had one final possession, and Gar Heard scored for Phoenix to tie the game. The Celtics went on to win in triple overtime, which was hailed as the greatest NBA Finals game ever played.
"'On stamina alone, he’d be among the top players who ever played the game,' longtime New York Knicks coach Red Holzman once said of John “Hondo” Havlicek. "'It would’ve been fair to those who had to play him or those who had to coach against him if he had been blessed only with his inhuman endurance. God had to compound it by making him a good scorer, smart ballhandler and intelligent defensive player with quickness of mind, hands and feet'".
Havlicek retired as a 13-time NBA All-Star, and his number 17 jersey was retired by the Celtics. At the time, Havlicek was the NBA career leader in games played (a mark surpassed in 1984 by Elvin Hayes) and was in third place on the list of all-time NBA leaders in points scored. Longtime Celtics teammate Bill Russell once described Havlicek as "'the best all-around ballplayer [he] ever saw'". At the time of his death, Havlicek was the Celtics' all-time leading scorer with 26,395 points (20.8 points per game). He was also the first player to score 1,000 points in 16 consecutive seasons, with his best scoring season coming during the 1970–71 season, when he averaged 28.9 points per game. He was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team five times and was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team three times.
Havlicek finished his 16-year career with eight NBA championships. As of 2019, only Bill Russell (with 11) and Sam Jones (with 10)--both of whom were Celtics teammates of Havlicek's--had won more NBA championships than he had. Havlicek won all eight NBA Finals in which he participated.
In 1980, Havlicek was selected as one of the league's greatest players ever, being named to the NBA 35th Anniversary Team. In 1984, Havlicek became a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1996, he was selected as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History by a panel of journalists, players, coaches, executives, and general managers. He was also named the 14th best player of all-time in Bill Simmons's Book of Basketball. In October 2021, Havlicek was again honored as one of the league's greatest players of all time by being named to the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. To commemorate the NBA's 75th Anniversary, The Athletic published their own list of the top 75 players of all time, ranking Havlicek as the 29th-greatest player in NBA history.
In 1974, Havlicek received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement. In 2007, Bridgeport High School in his hometown renamed their gymnasium "John J. Havlicek Gymnasium". Fellow NBA Hall of Famer Chris Mullin wore number 17 as a tribute to Havlicek. In October 2022, Havlicek was inaugurated into the Croatian-American Sports Hall of Fame.
In addition to his on-court success, Havlicek was known for his character and for his commitment to placing the team ahead of his own individual achievements. Longtime Celtics coach Red Auerbach once said, "'If I ever had a son, I would want him to be like John Havlicek'".
Post-NBA years edit
Havlicek was shrewd with his money during his playing career, and he invested much of this income in the Wendy's fast food chain during its formative years. The success of his investments left Havlicek with a comfortable income after retirement and he never had to work for a conventional salary again. He had no desire to coach; instead, he served as a corporate speaker.
Havlicek was a member of the board of the Genesis Foundation, which assists children with disabilities and genetic disorders. He and his wife Beth held the John Havlicek Celebrity Fishing Tournament for more than three decades, with proceeds going to the foundation.
Personal life edit
Havlicek met his wife, Beth, while both were attending Ohio State University. The couple married in 1967. They had two children: a son named Chris and a daughter named Jill. Chris Havlicek attended the University of Virginia on a basketball scholarship in the early 1990s. Jill Havlicek married former Major League Baseball outfielder and coach Brian Buchanan.
Havlicek had Parkinson's disease during his later years. He died on April 25, 2019, in Jupiter, Florida at the age of 79. Following his death, Boston City Hall was lit in green in his memory.
NBA career statistics edit
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
|†||Won an NBA championship||*||Led the league|
Regular season edit
See also edit
- List of National Basketball Association career games played leaders
- List of National Basketball Association franchise career scoring leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career scoring leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career assists leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career free throw scoring leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career minutes played leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career triple-double leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career playoff scoring leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career playoff assists leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career playoff free throw scoring leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career playoff triple-double leaders
- List of National Basketball Association single-game playoff scoring leaders
- List of NBA players who have spent their entire career with one franchise
- List of National Basketball Association annual minutes leaders
- List of NBA players with most championships
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