Sixteen sweet seasons
Catching up with John Havlicek
He is the centerpiece of one of the most famous calls in sports history.
John Havliceks famous steal in the 1965 playoffs ("Havlicek stole the ball!") was just one (albeit the most important one) of his highlights during a Hall of Fame career with the Boston Celtics that spanned 16 seasons (1962-78) and featured eight NBA titles.
A 13-time all-star and 1984 Hall of Fame inductee, Havlicek is the Celtics all-time leading scorer with 26,395 points, has the most games played (1,270), most minutes logged (46,471) and his No. 17 hangs proudly above the parquet in the new Garden.
I couldnt have been drafted by a better team in regards to the style of play that I had, Havlicek said recently. They (Celtics) were very defensive orientated, which I was known for as a college player. I never doubted my offensive abilities and when I came to the pros there were more opportunities for me to score. Being a young rookie they took me in gently and did all the right things.
Winning championships is what its all about and I was fortunate enough to be on those teams. Its hard to say I didnt have a good career with a great organization because they are the epitome as far as basketball is concerned.
To this day, Havlicek, nicknamed Hondo, remains one of the most admired players in NBA history and left a legacy of playing the game only one way -- all out. Hustle, heart, and determination are all adjectives that perfectly describe the way Havlicek played every minute on the basketball court.
I never wanted to have an opponent feel as though he had beaten me even if we had lost the game, Havlicek said.
These days, Havlicek, 65, lives in Weston with his wife, Beth. They have a son, Chris, 34 and a daughter, Jill, 31, and one grandchild.
New England has a lot to offer, said Havlicek about remaining in the area after his playing days. It has the four seasons and the four major sports teams. I also have a place on the Cape and a place in Florida. I spend about four months at each.
Havlicek owns three Wendys restaurants and a piece of a food company in Ohio. He also handles public relations for a company in Leominster and listens to any freelancing opportunities that come up.
Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendys, was a friend of mine, and his daughter Wendy, whom he named it after, used to baby sit for me, Havlicek said. I go back with them a long time. She (Wendy) is a grown woman now and unfortunately her father passed away. And that was the last time I saw her. They will always have a special place in my heart.
Havlicek enjoys hunting and fishing now that hes retired.
I think golf is a pastime that a lot of people enjoy, Havlicek said. I bird hunt but I dont hunt the big game or anything like that. Fishing is another passion because these are the things I did while I was growing up. I do not golf however.
Havlicek joined the Celtics as a first-round draft pick out of Ohio State, where he enjoyed similar success. During his four years with the Buckeyes they compiled a 78-6 record and won the NCAA Championship in 1960.
I think it doesnt hurt to be on a team thats successful and I knew Red Auerbach often times would draft a person based on the type of program the person was involved with, said Havlicek.
He knew our (Ohio States) program and he knew the caliber of players we had and he knew we won a championship. There were a lot of good things about me that he took into consideration based on the program I came from.
As far as the current Celtics, Havlicek kept an eye on the playoffs, but was disappointed with how Boston didnt take care of the ball.
It becomes very frustrating because you think of what you would have done, said Havlicek. Their main problem is taking care of the ball. Its an issue that has to be sacred because you do not want to give the ball away without getting a good attempt or putting yourself in a position to score.