Boston Celtics announced Thursday night (Apr.25) that John Havlicek, who is considered one the greatest to ever grace NBA hardcourts, passed away at the age of 79.
The life-long Celtic affectionately known as “Hondo” and was heralded for his hustle and heart played all of his 16 NBA seasons with the team winning an astounding eight championships winning titles in his first four years in the league. Havlicek eight rings put him in elite company in the rings department with fellow teammates Bill Russell (11) and Sam Jones (10).
The Hall of Famer’s cause of death was not immediately disclosed but it was known he was battling Parkison’s disease. Fellow NBA Legends quickly paid their respects to Havlicek, Russell said on Twitter his former Celtics brethren was “not just a teammate and a great guy, but he was family.”
Another former teammate Paul Silas expressed how me much loved Hondo when speaking with ESPN adding:
“I loved the man. I won two championships with him. When I first got to Boston, we talked all the time. All I wanted him to do was shoot. And when he didn’t, I’d go right at him. He really was one of the greatest shooters I ever saw. When we needed a big basket, he was always the guy we wanted to take the shot.”
In a statement from the Boston Celtics the team called Havilcek “the face of many of the franchise’s signature moments.”
“His defining traits as a player were his relentless hustle and wholehearted commitment to team over self. 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.”
One of Havlicek’s most memorable moments came in Game 7 of the 1965 Eastern Conference finals. After a pivotal turnover by Bill Russell with five seconds left in the game, the Philadelphia 76ers had a chance to win the game. It was Hondo’s iconic play where he anticipated Hal Greer’s pass to Chet Walker stealing it and getting the ball to a teammate dribble out the clock and sealing the deal. His Celtics would go on to win the title that year beating the Los Angeles Lakers.
Havlicek was chosen by the Celtics with the seventh pick in the 1962 NBA draft out of Ohio State where he won an NCAA title in 1960. He would go on to cement his legendary status in the NBA by being named NBA Finals MVP in 1974, making 11 All-NBA teams, eight All-Defensive teams and being one of nine players to be named to 13 straight NBA All-Star teams.
The Celtics will honor Havlicek by wearing a black stripe with the No. 17 on their jerseys for the remainder of the playoffs and will wear a Havlicek-themed shooting shirt for Game of 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals when the team returns home to take on the Milwaukee Bucks.
Photo: Focus On Sport / Getty