John Havlicek (born April 8, 1940 in Martins Ferry, Ohio) is an American former 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. 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 and one of his friends growing up was Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro.
Even though Havlicek is considered one of the best players in NBA history, he was mostly overlooked as a college player because he was 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 for them 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. With the Philadelphia 76ers in position to score the winning basket in the final game of the series, Havlicek tipped Hal Greer's inbound pass away, leading to Celtics announcer Johnny Most's exclamation, "Havlicek steals it. Over to Sam Jones. Havlicek stole the ball! It's all over! Johnny Havlicek stole the ball!".
Havlicek is the Celtics all-time leader in points and games played, scoring 26,395 points (20.8 points per game, 6th 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.
Havlicek shares the NBA Finals single-game record for most points in an overtime period (9 in an May 10,1974 game vs. the Milwaukee Bucks), and was named that year's NBA Finals MVP.
Late in the second Overtime of Game Five of the 1976 NBA Finals, Havlicek made a shot that he thought was a game-winner as fans spilled over to the floor, it really was one second left in overtime no. 2. Despite the confusion, The Celtics won the game in Triple Overtime.
A 13-time NBA All-Star, Havlicek retired in 1978 and his number 17 jersey was immediately retired at the Boston Garden.