John Havlicek, who won eight NBA championships with the Boston Celtics and was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984, died Thursday. He was 79.
Havlicek suffered from Parkinson’s disease, and the team confirmed his death in a statement.
“His defining traits as a player were his relentless hustle and wholehearted commitment to team over self,” the team said. “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.”
Havlicek averaged 20.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists in his 16-year career with the Celtics. He was part of a glorious era in Celtics history when the team had a collection of players led by Hall of Famers Bill Russell on the court and Red Auerbach as coach.
He is the Celtics’ all-time leading scorer with 26,395 points, was named to the All-Star team 13 times and was the 1974 Finals MVP. At 6-5, Havlicek played guard and forward and was a workhorse. He played in at least 75 games in every season of his career, including all 82 games five times. He led the league in minutes played twice and played more than 40 minutes per game in five seasons.
The Celtics were dominant, and Havlicek’s selflessness defined Celtics basketball. He also played a significant part in one of the most famous plays in Celtics history.
In Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Philadelphia 76ers and Wilt Chamberlain in 1965, Havlicek knocked the ball to a teammate on a Sixers inbounds play, leading Celtics play-by-play man Johnny Most to yell, “Havlicek steals it. Over to Sam Jones. Havlicek stole the ball! It’s all over! It’s all over! Johnny Havlicek is being mobbed by the fans!”
Source: USA Today