He was born to run, and for sixteen seasons John Havlicek was an unyielding force of perpetual motion for the Boston Celtics, breaking down defenders and NBA records alike, winning eight NBA championships first as Sixth Man extraordinaire, then as an All-Star standout in the waning years of the Russell Dynasty, and finally as an All-NBA First Team selection, NBA Finals Most Valuable Player and key protagonist in the NBA’s Greatest Game Ever Played. Havlicek, or ‘Hondo’ to legions of adoring fans, will be forever immortalized by the most famous radio call in basketball history, but his most lasting mark is that of the indefatigable forward and undisputed leader of the NBA’s signature franchise, the quintessential running man blessed with sure hands, a quick mind and the heart of a champion…
Havlicek on being drafted by the Celtics:
It didn’t really surprise me. It never hurts to be on a team that is successful, and I knew Red Auerbach often times would draft a person based on the type of program the person was involved with. He was well aware of Ohio State’s program and the success that we’d enjoyed, and he knew the caliber of players we had on those teams. He knew that we had won a national championship, and that we were competing for a championship every year. So there were a lot of good things about me that he took into consideration based on the kind of program that I came from. He knew that if I could contribute at a high level on such a successful team, he figured that I should be able to make the transition to the pros and be able to help the Celtics.
Havlicek on the battles between Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain:
It wasn’t a matter of Wilt-versus-Russell with Bill. He would let Wilt score 50 if we won, and there were times when that was the case. The most important things to Bill were championships, rings and winning. He was never after the personal stats. Wilt could raise the level of his game, he could do things that were eye-popping when you reviewed the box score, but he could never figure out how to make his teammates around him better. Bill was always there to win the important possessions, to grab the key rebounds, to make the key blocks, to trigger a key fast breaks. He played a completely different game than Wilt. It was a mental game, a psychological game. And it was a big weapon whenever Bill went up against Wilt, because in Wilt’s mind, Bill already had Wilt’s number. The battle was already won before it ever started. Wilt would never admit it, but Bill knew he was in Wilt’s head. And he used that to his advantage.