The exquisite jumper and boundless energy were nonpareil, yet these attributes barely tell the story of how Jo Jo White became one of the most important Boston Celtics of all time. He is perhaps most famous for his role in “The Greatest Game Ever Played”, the triple-overtime victory over the Phoenix Suns in Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals, and yet his was a career built on the dual pilings of longevity (10 seasons in a Celtic uniform, seven seasons an NBA All-Star) and durability (a team record 488 consecutive games played). He was the ideal teammate, willing to suppress his considerable offensive talents in order to make those around him better. He was a superbly conditioned athlete and the catalyst of a vaunted fast–break attack that won two world championships in the mid-70s. He was, above all else, the consummate Boston Celtic; like Frank Ramsey and Satch Sanders before him, White understood his roll and played it to perfection, and in the process continued the Celtic tradition of placing team-centric accomplishments ahead of individual honors…
White on winning Olympic gold in 1968:
Being a member of the U.S. Olympic basketball team and representing my country were great honors. The experience was important to me in a number of ways, in part because it was my first championship in organized sports, and this in a sense validated what I was doing as a basketball player. Also, I didn’t feel as though I were a true champion until I’d actually won in Mexico City. So the gold medal, playing for my country – these things that brought with them a real sense of accomplishment. Going into the Olympic Games we weren’t the overwhelming favorites to win the gold medal. We weren’t even considered the strongest team in the tournament. That billing went to the Russians, who was upset by Yugoslavia in the semifinals. But we were the more determined team, and I think that’s what set us apart.
White on his first Celtics training camp:
Was it as hard or as difficult as I thought it would be? It was a tough camp, very demanding, but I was ready for it. I was a Marine, so I had been through all the physical and mental challenges that comes with military training. Plus I was in excellent condition because of my military obligation, so I feel that this gave me an added advantage.