John J. Havlicek (born April 8, 1940 in Martins Ferry, Ohio) is a retired American professional basketball player who competed for 16 seasons with the Boston Celtics, winning eight NBA titles, half of them coming in his first four seasons. In the NBA, only teammates Bill Russell and Sam Jones won more championship rings during their playing careers. He is considered one of the best NBA players in history, especially on defense, and was inducted as a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984. He was a three sport star at Bridgeport High School in Bridgeport, Ohio and one of his boyhood friends was Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro.
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.
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.
Nicknamed "Hondo", (a name inspired by the John Wayne movie of the same name), Havlicek revolutionized the "sixth man" role, and has been immortalized for his clutch steal in the closing seconds of the 1965 Eastern Conference championship.
In the seventh and final game, played at Boston Garden, the Philadelphia 76ers trailed the Celtics 110-109 with five seconds left. But they had the ball, Wilt Chamberlain and a chance to win the game -- and the series. Hal Greer was set to throw the inbounds pass for the 76ers. Havlicek stood with his back to Greer, guarding dangerous Chet Walker.
But as Greer's pass came inbounds, Havlicek spun, leaped and tipped the pass to Sam Jones, leading Celtics announcer Johnny Most to make the most famous call of his legendary career: Template:Cquote Veteran referee Earl Strom, who wrote about this in his memoir "Calling the Shots," called Havlicek's reaction one of the greatest plays Strom ever saw in his 32 years as a professional official.
John Havlicek is the Celtics all-time leader in points and games played, scoring 26,395 points (20.8 points per game, 10th all-time in points scored in the NBA), and playing in 1,270 games (4th all-time). He became the first player to score 1,000 points in 16 consecutive seasons, with his best season coming during the 1970-71 NBA season when he averaged 28.9 points per game.
Late in the second overtime of Game Five of the 1976 NBA Finals Havlicek made a shot that he thought was the game-winner, as fans spilled onto the floor. But there was still one second left in the period, and the Celtics went on to win the game in triple overtime.
Havlicek was ranked #15 on SLAM Magazine's Top 75 NBA Players of all time in 2003.