Author Topic: John Havlicek  (Read 7221 times)

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John Havlicek
« on: January 21, 2009, 06:28:17 PM »

Offline Roy Hobbs

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John Havlicek

Full Name: John J. Havlicek
Born: 4/8/40 in Martins Ferry, Ohio
Height: 6-5; Weight: 205 lbs.
High School: Bridgeport (Ohio)
College: Ohio State
Drafted by: Boston Celtics, 1962
Nickname: Hondo

Honors: Elected to Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (1984); NBA champion (1963, '64, '65, '66, '68, '69, '74, '76); NBA Finals MVP (1974); All-NBA First Team (1971-74); All-NBA Second Team (1964, '66, '68, '69, '70, '75, '76); All-Defensive First Team (1972-76); All-Defensive Second Team (1969-71); 13-time All-Star; One of 50 Greatest Players in NBA History (1996).

"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."

The 6-5 Boston Celtics star was a perpetual-motion machine, a human dynamo who was legendary for wearing out opponents with his relentless baseline-to-baseline efforts. A star at both forward and guard, Havlicek's versatility made him perhaps the finest all-around player in the history of the NBA, according to Sports Illustrated.

A key member of two generations of Celtics, Havlicek provided the spark off the bench during the Celtics' dynasty years of the 1960's. During the 1970's he was the trusted veteran who captained youthful teams to championships in 1974 and 1976.

Known for clutch performances in big games, Havlicek posted impressive numbers during his illustrious 16-year career. In 1,270 regular-season games he scored 26,395 points and averaged 20.8 points to rank as the Celtics' all-time leading scorer and top scorer in NBA history. He also grabbed 8,007 rebounds, recorded 6,114 assists, and played on eight Boston championship teams. He appeared in 13 consecutive NBA All-Star Games, earned 11 selections to the All-NBA First or Second Team and was named to the NBA All-Defensive First or Second Team eight times.

The child of Czechoslovakian immigrants, Havlicek was born in the small town of Martins Ferry, Ohio, home to coal miners and steel workers. As a boy he loved to run, sprinting to and from school or from one mile marker to another on a local highway. He once said that he was forced to keep up with his bike-riding pals on foot because his parents refused to let him have a bicycle.

At Bridgeport High School, Havlicek starred in basketball, baseball and football. An All-State selection in all three sports, he was a highly recruited quarterback who could throw the ball 80 yards. He chose Ohio State but did not play football. Although he did play baseball and batted over .400 in his freshman year, he focused on basketball. A collegiate All-American, Havlicek scored 14.6 points per game in three varsity seasons, playing on Buckeyes teams with Jerry Lucas, Bobby Knight and future Celtics teammate Larry Siegfried. Havlicek's Ohio State teams compiled a 78-6 record and won an NCAA Championship in 1960.

After his senior season Havlicek was drafted into two professional sports leagues. The NFL's Cleveland Browns selected him in the seventh round of the 1962 NFL Draft, and the NBA's Boston Celtics nabbed him in the first round of the NBA Draft. The Browns, impressed with Havlicek's athletic ability and his 6-5, 205-pound frame, tried him at wide receiver. He played in several exhibition games that summer before being released by the team in favor of future All-Pro Gary Collins.

Havlicek turned his attention to the Celtics, who had taken him with the last pick of the first round. Boston already had Bill Russell manning the post, and Celtics Coach Red Auerbach later said that his expectations of Havlicek had been modest; he had simply wanted a player to eventually fill the sixth-man role held by veteran Frank Ramsey.

When Havlicek joined the Celtics in 1962 they had won four consecutive NBA titles. Boston was loaded with talent, but star players such as Bob Cousy, Bill Sharman, Ramsey, and Jim Loscutoff were in the final stages of their careers. Havlicek's youthful physical intensity was like a shot of adrenaline for the aging team. Coming off the bench mostly as a forward, he averaged 14.3 points during his rookie year, many of them coming at the receiving end of Cousy's famous passes on the fast break. "I made a living off Bob Cousy," Havlicek often said.

An NBA All-Rookie Team selection for 1962-63, Havlicek displayed great hustle and tenacious defense, but he didn't impress everyone in his first season. According to Sports Illustrated, Cousy assessed him as a "non-shooter who would probably burn himself out." But Havlicek possessed awesome physical skills. Among the first of the great swingmen, he combined brute force with quickness. At 6-5 he could overpower most guards, yet he was quicker than most forwards.

He also had the inner drive that characterized "Celtics pride." After his first year Havlicek went home and worked hard to improve both his outside shooting and his dribbling. The next season he led the team in scoring, averaging 19.9 ppg and he showed that he was ready to assume Ramsey's position as the Celtics' all-important sixth man. Despite Cousy's retirement, Boston won 59 games in 1963-64 and vanquished the San Francisco Warriors in five games for the NBA crown. Havlicek made the All-NBA Second Team.

For the next five seasons Havlicek was the best nonstarter in basketball. As Boston's "supersub" he came in at either guard or forward and was usually on the court at the end of a game. Along with Russell, Havlicek routinely accumulated the most playing minutes among the Celtics during a season.

Havlicek didn't mind the sixth-man role. "It never bothered me," he once said, "because I think that role is very important to a club.. One thing I learned from Red Auerbach was that it's not who starts the game, but who finishes it, and I generally was around at the finish."

During the 1960s Havlicek proved that Cousy had misjudged him. The "nonshooter" had blossomed into an offensive force who could be counted on to score 18 to 21 points per game. Havlicek could hit from anywhere and excelled at shooting on the run. He showcased his talents at the 1968 NBA All-Star Game, in which he racked up 26 points in 22 minutes. In addition, his improved ballhandling made him just as effective at guard as at forward.

Nor did Havlicek burn out as Cousy had predicted. The "man in motion," as he was dubbed in a book title, continued to run defenders into the ground. It was once estimated that he ran three to five miles per game.

The quiet, even-tempered Havlicek didn't cut an imposing figure, but he had the broad-shouldered, sinewy frame of a steelworker. He also brought tremendous self-discipline and a methodical approach to tasks. When a reporter made fun of his habit of keeping his socks on a hanger in the locker room, Havlicek defended his fastidiousness in Sports Illustrated. "I'm a man of routine and discipline," he explained. "My socks have to dry out. My whole life has been thought out."

In addition to his impressive statistics, Havlicek showed great poise. At crucial moments when a decisive play had to be made, it was "Havlicek time." A classic example of his clutch performing occurred in the seventh game of the 1965 Eastern Division Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers. With only five seconds left in the game, he deflected an inbounds pass from Hal Greer to save a one-point Celtics victory, prompting broadcaster Johnny Most's legendary call, "Havlicek steals it. Over to Sam Jones. Havlicek stole the ball! It's all over! Johnny Havlicek stole the ball!"

In 1968, during another seventh game against the Sixers in the division finals, he scored 40 points at Philadelphia to help Boston to a 100-96 victory. Later, in the pivotal Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals, he sank a miraculous, game-saving basket against Phoenix in the closing seconds of the second overtime to force a third extra period. The Celtics outlasted the Suns, 128-126, and went on to win the championship.

By the end of the 1968-69 season it had become clear that the Celtics' old order was passing. K. C. Jones had already retired, Sam Jones was 36 years old, Russell was 35, and "Satch" Sanders was 30. The team finished in fourth place during the regular season. In need of his firepower, the Celtics looked to Havlicek for scoring, and he responded with 21.6 points per game. With a strong effort from Havlicek in the playoffs, Boston's graybeards defeated Wilt Chamberlain and the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games to capture the NBA title. It was the Celtics' sixth championship in Havlicek's seven seasons.

The 1969-70 campaign put an end to the Celtics' dynasty. With Russell and Jones retired, the team failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 20 years. Under new coach Tom Heinsohn, Havlicek became a starter and the hub of Boston's offense. He had a sensational year, accomplishing the rare feat of leading his team in three categories: scoring (24.2 ppg), rebounding (7.8 rpg), and assists (6.8 apg). He ranked eighth in the league in scoring and seventh in assists.

Havlicek, whose nickname, Hondo, was inspired by the John Wayne movie of the same name, led a Celtics comeback during the early 1970s. In 1970-71 and 1971-72 he averaged 28.9 and 27.5 points, respectively. Despite having turned 30 years old in 1970, he led the league in minutes played for both of those seasons, averaging more than 45 minutes per game.

As the one remaining star from the Celtics' past, Havlicek became captain of a team that now included Jo Jo White, Don Chaney, and newcomer Dave Cowens. Employing a fast break that brought back memories of Cousy's Celtics, Boston rolled through the 1972-73 season with a 68-14 record.

The Celtics might have won an NBA title that year, but misfortune struck when Havlicek severely injured his shoulder in the third game of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Knicks. He made a valiant return later in the series, but the Knicks ousted the Celtics in seven games. Prior to the fourth game at Madison Square Garden, the New York fans gave Havlicek a spontaneous standing ovation when he appeared in street clothes.

Five years after Russell's retirement the Celtics returned to the top of the NBA by beating the Milwaukee Bucks for the league title in 1974. Voted NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, Havlicek was now recognized as the leader of the new generation of Celtics. Customarily stoic, he became emotional after the triumph, according to The New York Times. "Thanks for doing this for me," he said, as he hugged and kissed teammates in the Boston dressing room after the final game. "This is the greatest one."

The following season Havlicek continued his whirlwind offense and defense. The New York Times reported that after watching him put on a one-man show against the Knicks one evening, Bill Russell was heard to say, "The man is crazy. One of these days he'll find he can't do it anymore." But Havlicek was able to do it right up until the end. He played in all 82 games and averaged more than 16 points during his final campaign in 1977-78, despite turning 38 in midseason. His last year was a dismal one for the Celtics, however, as they fell to the Atlantic Division basement. But Hondo was treated to a two-month farewell tour in which fans flocked to arenas to pay tribute.

Havlicek retired with a slew of impressive statistics. He was the NBA's all-time leader in games played at the time. He also ranked in the NBA's top 10 in minutes played and in total points. At the end of his career Havlicek had so many championship rings that he could have opened a jewelry store. He had been on eight Boston championship teams, six with Russell and two without. In 1980 he was named to the NBA 35th Anniversary All-Time Team. In 1983 he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and in 1996 he was named to the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team.

Jerry West told Sports Illustrated, "The guy is the ambassador of our sport. John always gave his very best every night and had time for everybody-teammates, fans, the press." Cowens added, "You tell me how many class guys there are like him anywhere. They ought to retire his number from the whole NBA. Just take 17 and stash it up there in lights."

But the highest compliment may have come during a halftime salute in his final game at Boston Garden, in which Havlicek, in typical fashion, scored 29 points. "He epitomizes everything good," said Celtics General Manager Red Auerbach in The New York Times. "If I had a son like John I'd be the happiest man in the world."

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Re: John Havlicek
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2009, 07:17:48 PM »

Offline EarthBall

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I've always felt that Hondo doesn't get the love he deserves. Here are a few of his accomplishments:

8 NBA championships
1 NCAA championship
13 all-star appearances
11 all-NBA 1st or 2nd teams
8 all-defensive 1st or 2nd teams

Sure he is loved and remembered in Boston. But rarely do I hear his name brought up on the national stage (outside of clips of him stealing the ball). It's surely debatable, but I would say he is a top 10-15 player in NBA history behind:

Kareem
Elgin
Wilt
Bill
Larry
Julius
Magic
Michael
Shaq
Oscar
Jerry
Timmy D

(Sorry LeBron, Kobe and Kevin...)
 

Re: John Havlicek
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2009, 08:22:28 PM »

Offline Roy Hobbs

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Absolutely agreed.  Havlicek is one of the best ever.  It always surprises me when people rank Pierce ahead of him on the all-time list of Celts.  No respect to Pierce, but he's simply not in Havlicek's class.

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Re: John Havlicek
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2009, 08:35:24 PM »

Online KCattheStripe

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  No respect to Pierce, but he's simply not in Havlicek's class.

I always knew you didn't respect Paul, Roy! ;)

Re: John Havlicek
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2009, 09:44:17 PM »

Offline xmuscularghandix

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Paul will be in Hondo's class by the time he retires, barring a major injury or him retiring in the next 3 years.

Re: John Havlicek
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2009, 09:53:52 PM »

Offline Jon

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I've always felt that Hondo doesn't get the love he deserves. Here are a few of his accomplishments:

8 NBA championships
1 NCAA championship
13 all-star appearances
11 all-NBA 1st or 2nd teams
8 all-defensive 1st or 2nd teams

Sure he is loved and remembered in Boston. But rarely do I hear his name brought up on the national stage (outside of clips of him stealing the ball). It's surely debatable, but I would say he is a top 10-15 player in NBA history behind:

Kareem
Elgin
Wilt
Bill
Larry
Julius
Magic
Michael
Shaq
Oscar
Jerry
Timmy D

(Sorry LeBron, Kobe and Kevin...)
 

I might even put him ahead of Baylor, West, and Erving due to the championships he won.  Let's keep in mind as well that he wasn't just along for the Russell title ride, as he won two titles with Cownens and White in the '70s. 

He was once quoted as saying that he would have stuck around another year or two had he known how good Larry Bird was going to be.  It's a shame he didn't.  It would've been cool to see the two of them play together. 

Re: John Havlicek
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2009, 10:07:48 PM »

Offline Brickowski

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Havlicek was bionic. They measured his pulse once right after he had played 48 minutes and it was slower than the speed of a normal person's pulse at rest.  He was a cardiovascular freak.

Re: John Havlicek
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2009, 10:30:12 PM »

Offline nickagneta

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Paul will be in Hondo's class by the time he retires, barring a major injury or him retiring in the next 3 years.
Sorry but no, Pierce won't ever come close to the player Hondo was. Let me put it to you this way. If I had to choose one guy in the history of the NBA to try to shut down Michael Jordan in his prime for one game, it would be John Havilcek. And Havilcek would probably do a great job at it. Probably better than anyone else ever could.

Yes, defensively he was that good.

He had a physiology much like Lance Armstrong in that his body could process oxygen at an almost inhumane rate. He never tired and never slowed. Now couple that with extraordinary skills, quickness and athleticism and you're starting to get an idea of who you were dealing with. In today's NBA Hondo would easily be a top 5 player, maybe top 3.

He was that good.

And Pierce, no matter how much numbers he puts up, never will be. That's no slant or disrespect towards Pierce who is an incredible talent and one of my favorite Celtics ever. But he couldn't touch Hondo as a player.

Re: John Havlicek
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2009, 10:33:17 PM »

Offline Dirk

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He sure is one of the best ever. He accomplished huge things, the problem is that it was a long time ago, so it's hard to really know about him that much, specially having guys like Russell and Cousy getting most of the attention because they also are considered one of the best all-time.

He is one of the important pieces that make up the Celtics tradition and keeps it alive. He represents Celtics Pride just as good as any other green legend. He is also appreciated by the organization as, for instance, he was the one carrying the Championship trophy into the garden on opening night and then handing it to Paul Pierce.

I was lucky to meet him less than three months ago  ;D
Only Celtic I have ever met in person and have the chance to talk for a minute or so.

http://www.celticsblog.com/2008/10/24/645919/this-is-me-with-hondo-just

I had no idea he was going to be on that game as a member of the NBA crew going around Europe. He was real nice and cool. Once I started going back to my seat people started asking me "who is that guy?" haha, of course only a die hard Celtics fan would know about him, not that he is unheard of, but that was a NO-WAS game in Barcelona!, and also considering he is 68 years old and was born 45 years before I came to earth  :o
the team to beat...
a force to reckon with...
just pick your poison.

Re: John Havlicek
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2009, 10:33:57 PM »

Offline Redz

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I only got to see Hondo at the end of his career, but he was still great.  It's too bad he left at a downturn time for the C's (right before it got really bad for a couple of years)

Hondo rules!


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Re: John Havlicek
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2009, 11:06:11 PM »

Offline Brendan

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The closest comparable is Ray Borque in hockey.

Pierce is in his class, but Hondo is definately better. In fact Pierce's ability at both SG and SF are similar. Maybe Pierce is an inverse Hondo - vaunted scorer, but secretly good defender. Let's not forget Pierce went toe to toe with Lebron and Kobe in the last two series on way to Hondo tribute championship number 7.

Re: John Havlicek
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2009, 11:18:51 PM »

Offline Brickowski

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Havlicek played sixteen years and scored over 26,000 points, yet I never saw him dunk the ball, not even in warmups. He always used the glass.

He was like a 6-5 Jimmy Chitwood.  Every shot and every pass was right out of a Red Auerbach instructional video. So was his defense. Hand checking was allowed in those days, and opposing players used to get black and blue marks after having been guarded by Havlicek for an entire game.

The Celtics had that play where Havlicek came around a double screen and shot a corner jumper.  If he had played in the era of the 3 pointer, Havlicek might have scored 36,000 points.
 
« Last Edit: January 22, 2009, 11:34:05 AM by Brickowski »

Re: John Havlicek
« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2010, 04:59:11 AM »

Offline misha

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Through 16 seasons and more games—1,441—than anyone else has played, John Havlicek has gone full tilt for the Celtics. This weekend, at age 38, his farewell tour ended, he comes to a stop in Boston Garden

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1093508/1/index.htm

A very nice article about Hondo from 1978.
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Iker Casillas, Giacinto Facchetti, Alessandro Nesta, Matthias Sammer, Javier Zanetti, Lothar Matthäus (c), Xavi, Zico, Maradona, Roberto Baggio, Ferenc Puskas, Karl Heinz Rummenigge

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Re: John Havlicek
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2010, 07:19:04 AM »

Offline Bahku

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There are just very few human beings in the history of sports that you can compare on the multiple levels of accomplishment and success to John Havlicek ... he is not only an athlete of the highest order, but also a human being of exceptional rarety and character.

I can think of no other nick-name that carries with it the level of reverence that "Hondo" does ... he brought to actualization, the complete definition of "Celtic Pride", and was the early Ambassador of Professional Athleticism.

There will never be another ... could never be another, and the fact he was a Celtic, is our blessing to be forever reminded of and appreciated. Great post, (TP), can't believe I missed this before.
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Re: John Havlicek
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2010, 07:33:51 AM »

Offline xmuscularghandix

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The closest comparable is Ray Borque in hockey.

Pierce is in his class, but Hondo is definately better. In fact Pierce's ability at both SG and SF are similar. Maybe Pierce is an inverse Hondo - vaunted scorer, but secretly good defender. Let's not forget Pierce went toe to toe with Lebron and Kobe in the last two series on way to Hondo tribute championship number 7.


Very true. Paul’s no hack on the defensive end.


Havlicek played sixteen years and scored over 26,000 points, yet I never saw him dunk the ball, not even in warmups. He always used the glass.

He was like a 6-5 Jimmy Chitwood.  Every shot and every pass was right out of a Red Auerbach instructional video. So was his defense. Hand checking was allowed in those days, and opposing players used to get black and blue marks after having been guarded by Havlicek for an entire game.

The Celtics had that play where Havlicek came around a double screen and shot a corner jumper.  If he had played in the era of the 3 pointer, Havlicek might have scored 36,000 points.
 

You’ve described Hondo to perfection, class act.

"He epitomizes everything good," said Celtics General Manager Red Auerbach in The New York Times. "If I had a son like John I'd be the happiest man in the world."

 

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