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John Havlicek (1940–2019), Boston Celtics Hall of Famer

AP Photo/Ray Stubblebine

He won eight championships in his 16 years with the Celtics

John "Hondo" Havlicek is widely considered one of basketball's greatest players, winning eight championships in his 16 seasons with the Boston Celtics. That's close to a record – only two NBA players have more championship wins (and they were Havlicek's Celtics teammates). Drafted by the Celtics in 1962 after playing college ball for Ohio State, Havlicek never played for another team, remaining with the Celtics until his retirement in 1978. He was the team's all-time top scorer, a title he still holds. The Celtics retired his number 17 immediately after his retirement, and he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984.

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Died: April 25, 2019 (Who else died on April 25?)

Details of death: Died in Jupiter, Florida at the age of 79.


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Triple threat: As a student at Bridgeport High School in Bridgeport, Ohio, Havlicek played three sports: basketball, baseball, and football — he was an all-state quarterback. He continued playing basketball and baseball at Ohio State, though he opted against playing college football under famed coach Woody Hayes. That didn't stop him from getting an invitation to try out as a wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns in 1962. The Browns drafted him — but so did the Celtics, and after playing with the Browns in the preseason, he was cut, and he made his way to the basketball world.

Notable quote: “If you are honest with yourself and can look into a mirror and believe that you have given 100 percent, you should feel proud. If you cannot, then there is more work to be done.”

What people said about him: “It is getting difficult each time I hear about another contemporary that passes! What is harder is when we lose guys like John Havlicek, he was not just a teammate & a great guy, but he was family. That is how our Celtics teams were. RIP Hondo.” —Celtics teammate Bill Russell

“The dude ran all day. Never stopped. He wouldn't take long strides — they were little, choppy steps — but he was gone. When people used to say, 'You cannot hit a moving target,' that made me think of John.” —Celtics teammate Cedric Maxwell

“John loved the outdoors, loved to fish, and frequently when he played golf at Bear Lakes Country Club in West Palm Beach, he carried a fishing pole in his bag. But if there is one thing we should all remember about John Havlicek, it is his heart. John always made himself available to help others. Every time there was a charity event, or any time someone could make a difference in someone else’s life, John Havlicek was there.” - Jack Nicklaus on Facebook

“His defining traits as a player were his relentless hustle and his 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.” —Team statement from the Celtics

Full obituary: Boston Globe

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