One of the greatest players in NBA history died on Thursday. John Havlicek, who spent his entire 16-year career with the Boston Celtics and was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984, passed away at age 79. The Celtics released a statement regarding his passing.
“John Havlicek is one of the most accomplished players in Boston Celtics history, and the face of many of the franchise’s signature moments,” the statement read. “He was a great champion both on the court and in the community, winning 8 NBA championships and an NBA Finals MVP, while holding Celtics career records for points scored and games played. Named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, he is enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame and his retired #17 hangs in the Garden rafters. His defining traits as a player were his relentless hustle and wholehearted commitment to team over self.”
There aren’t many basketball players who ever had as decorated a career as Havlicek. An NCAA Champion at Ohio State, the man affectionately known as Hondo went seventh overall to the Celtics in the 1962 NBA Draft. He did not suit up for another team, winning eight NBA Championships and earning the title of Finals MVP in 1974. Havlicek famously punched the team’s ticket to the 1965 Finals with a steal in the game’s waning seconds.
Havlicek’s career included a myriad of All-NBA and All-Defense selections, and only former teammates Bill Russell and Sam Jones won more rings than him. As the Boston Globe notes, Havlicek succeeded Russell as the Celtics’ captain, and Russell regarded him as “the best all-around player I ever saw.”