BOSTON - John Havlicek, who won eight world championships as a player with the Boston Celtics, has died at the age of 79 in Jupiter, Florida.
Havlicek, originally from Bridgeport, Connecticut, played college basketball at Ohio State, winning a national championship in 1960. He was selected by the Celtics in the first round of the 1962 NBA Draft. In 16 seasons, he was named an All-Star 13 times while winning eight titles.
He was named MVP of the NBA Finals in 1974 when the Celtics beat the Milwaukee Bucks.
In 1965, Havlicek forced a turnover in the final seconds of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Philadelphia, a moment immortalized by play-by-play announcer Johnny Most, who screamed into the mic, "Havlicek steals it... Havlicek steals the ball. It's all over. It's all over."
Forty-one years after his retirement in 1978, Havlicek remains the all-time leading scorer in Celtics franchise history. He finished his 16-year career with 26,395 points.
It is with great sadness we have learned that Celtics Legend and Hall of Famer John Havlicek has passed away peacefully today at the age of 79. He will be dearly missed by his Celtics family.— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 26, 2019
A statement from the Celtics: https://t.co/yqOkZPkbej pic.twitter.com/xlUCKjbKvg
The Celtics confirmed Havlicek's passing and issued the following statement:
"John Havlicek is one of the most accomplished players in Boston Celtics history, and the face of many of the franchise’s signature moments. He was a great champion both on the court and in the community, winning 8 NBA championships and an NBA Finals MVP, while holding Celtics career records for points scored and games played.
"Named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, he is enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame and his retired #17 hangs in the Garden rafters. 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."
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement following news of Havlicek's passing:
"John Havlicek was a wonderful friend who represented the best of the NBA. He described himself as a man of routine and discipline – a humble approach that produced extraordinary results, including eight NBA championships with the Boston Celtics, 13 All-Star selections and some of the most iconic moments in league history. A trusted teammate who prioritized winning, John’s passion and energy endeared him to basketball fans and made him a model for generations of NBA players. We send our deepest sympathies to John’s wife, Beth, his son, Chris, and his daughter, Jill, as well as the entire Celtics organization."
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh called Havlicek "a basketball legend whose impact on the @celtics franchise as a player matched his impact on our community as a person."
“Havlicek stole the ball” is in the pantheon of sports moments known fondly by generations of Boston sports fans but his long career as an all-time franchise great transcended even that one epic play.— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) April 26, 2019
The @CityOfBoston will miss him deeply. pic.twitter.com/sWr7QLZWnH
Governor Charlie Baker said he was the "connective tissue between the great Celtics teams of the 50s and 60s & the great Celtics teams of the 70s. He was the guy who passed the baton from Bill Russell to Dave Cowens.
John Havlicek was the connective tissue between the great Celtics teams of the 50s and 60s & the great Celtics teams of the 70s. He was the guy who passed the baton from Bill Russell to Dave Cowens. Amazing player and by all accounts a very decent man. RIP.— Charlie Baker (@CharlieBakerMA) April 26, 2019
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