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Friday, April 26, 2019

Remembering John Havlicek: Ironman, Versatile Performer and Unselfish Teammate

Pro basketball lost one of its most legendary and accomplished players on Thursday with the passing of John Havlicek, a Hall of Famer and Top 50 player who won eight championships during his NBA career, trailing only his Boston Celtic teammates Bill Russell (11) and Sam Jones (10).

I interviewed Havlicek over a decade ago and the title of the article I wrote about him says it all: John Havlicek: The Ultimate Complete Player. Havlicek had no skill set weaknesses: He could score, pass, rebound, defend and handle the ball. He was a clutch player and an unselfish teammate who embraced the sixth man role early in his career before becoming a four-time All-NBA First Team selection and a five-time All-Defensive First Team selection. Havlicek played all of his 16 seasons for the Boston Celtics and he was the first pro basketball player to score at least 1000 points in each season of a career of that length, a feat later matched by Julius Erving.

The recent concept of "load management" would have been anathema to Havlicek, who missed just 33 regular season games during his career. "I'm ready to go 48 all the time. I get to rest on free throws and timeouts," he once declared. He retired as pro basketball's career leader in regular season games played (1270) and he ranked second (to Wilt Chamberlain) in career regular season minutes played (46,471) when he retired. During the 1976 playoffs, Havlicek played through a torn plantar fascia, missing just three games and playing 58 minutes in Boston's game five triple overtime win versus Phoenix in the NBA Finals, setting the stage for the title-clinching game six victory. "I don’t think you should mind a little pain if you’re paid to play," Havlicek explained.

Two years later, Havlicek scored 29 points in 41 minutes in his final game, which stands as the record for most points by a Hall of Famer in the final game of his career--at least until Kobe Bryant (60 points) is inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

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posted by David Friedman @ 12:47 AM



At Friday, April 26, 2019 3:19:00 AM, Blogger Kyle Falls said...

RIP Hondo

He is one of the most underrated players ever. In the early 70s, it was not uncommon for him to be called the best perimeter player in the league shared with an old Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Rick Barry, Walt Frazier, Nate Archibald, and a bunch of other really good players. He's quite easily one of the best two-way players of all-time. He could score 29ppg in a season and guard your team's best player.

He may be best known as the "guy that stole the ball", but I'm sure most people don't know that he averaged over 25ppg on 3 different championship teams in the playoffs. A 8x champion (2 after Russell) and a winner in every sense of the word. Without question the 3rd greatest Celtic of all-time... it's not debatable. He's also the 3rd best player to never win MVP (behind only West & Baylor). It was a pleasure watching him. The NBA community lost a good one.

At Friday, April 26, 2019 9:31:00 AM, Blogger Nick said...

Hondo ruled. Thank you for writing this.

Arguably one of the best twenty players of all time (and I'd contend pretty cleanly one of the best 25), he's been overshadowed somewhat in popular memory by later stars (particularly Bird) but man could he do it all, and he did it all at the highest possible level for a damn long time.


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