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Celtics Legends Series: John Havlicek Part 1

Posted by shawn cassidy on July 6, 2011 at 2:55 AM

Without question Hondo is in the top 5 of great Celtics. He still hangs around the team,and we saw first hand on the Celtics series on ESPN this year. Hondo gives Doc plays to run. Havlicek is my all time favorite Celtic. He's a Buckeye like me,and he's also one of the great Ohio state players of all time.

Even though the 6'5" Havlicek is considered one of the best players in NBA history, he was mostly overlooked as a college player playing on the same team as Jerry Lucas at Ohio State University. That team, which also had future coaching legend Bobby Knight as a reserve, won the 1960 NCAA title. He was named as an alternate to the 1960 Olympic Games United States Team.

For four years, Hayes kept an open locker and a clean jersey ready for Havlicek in case he changed his mind. Hayes also promised not to hassle Havlicek about his decision to play basketball and baseball at OSU instead of football, but that didn't stop Hayes from ribbing him on occasion.

"He once introduced me as ‘the best quarterback in the Big Ten, only he's not playing,'" Havlicek said.

OSU wanted Havlicek, but he wasn't sure whether he belonged in the Big Ten. Lee Caryer, an OSU basketball historian and author of the book "Golden Age of Ohio State Basketball," said Havlicek lacked self-confidence.

"He didn't think he was good enough. He was so impressed with (Jerry) Lucas, and he felt like he wasn't as good as Lucas," Caryer said. "That's the kind of person he is. He was the last person to think he was something special."

Lucas was Ohio's prodigal son at the time. A superstar at Middletown High School, he had no idea who Havlicek was when they met during their senior years.

"I had never heard of him, really. He was in a different part of the state," Lucas said. "The first time I met him was at the North-South All-Star Game for Ohio high school basketball players. John and I were on the same team.

"We won that game pretty handedly," he added, laughing.


Havlicek was drafted by both the Celtics and the NFL's Cleveland Browns in 1962. After competing briefly as a wide receiver in the Browns' training camp that year, he focused his energies on playing for the Celtics, with head coach Red Auerbach later describing him as the "guts of the team." He was also known for his stamina, with competitors saying that it was a challenge just to keep up with him.

I guess he was the original Reggie Miller or Ray Allen. John had to work his way into the Celtics line up. He gave the Celtics 14 points off the bench in 27 minutes on the floor. John would get to be an NBA champion in his first season as a Celtic. John has always talked about Celtic pride,and he's been one of many past Celtics greats still hanging around the team. Havlicek was able to win a title in his first season,and it was a feeling that set the tone for things to come.


"When John Havlicek retired, I thought he was the greatest all-around player I had ever seen," said Bob Ryan, former Celtics beat reporter for The Boston Globe and co-author of "Hondo: Celtic Man in Motion." "There's nobody today, no style that reminds me of John Havlicek.

Stay Tunned for Part 2


Categories: Celtics Legends Series

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