Ten days ago, John Havlicek was memorialized by former teammates and other sporting greats who paid their final respects at Trinity Church in Boston.
Havlicek, who died at age 79 in late April, starred for the Boston Celtics from 1962-78. A 13-time All-Star, he played on eight NBA championship teams. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984.
Fellow Celtics legend Bob Cousy, the inimitable point guard out of Holy Cross University, summed up Havlicek’s career at the memorial service on May 24.
“My old Jesuit mentor at HC (told me) that basically what God requires of you is that you maximize your God-given talents to reach out to those who need a boost,” Cousy said. “John personified this attitude.”
A model of consistency, Havlicek became the first player in NBA history to score 1,000 or more points in 16 straight seasons. He averaged 20.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists in the regular season. Furthermore, the Ohio State alum increased his numbers in the postseason: 22.0 and 6.9 (with 4.8 assists), appearing in 172 playoff games.
Havlicek: a tireless performer
In an email interview this past week, Tom Meschery, one of Havlicek’s NBA contemporaries, commented on the indefatigable small forward/shooting guard’s playing style.
“John was never my defensive assignment, thank God,” wrote Meschery, who played for the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors (1961-67) and Seattle SuperSonics (1967-71).
“Many of us believed that if John were to be cut open, we would discover only machinery — or in today’s parlance technology. So inexhaustible was John, that there could not be any other rational explanation for his non-stop hustle.”
Recollections from Boston
Boston Globe writer Bob Ryan penned a terrific tribute column to John Havlicek in April 1978. It was reprinted by The Globe a few weeks ago.
Among my favorite details from the piece: “Seldom getting into foul trouble, and always knowing how to operate with five fouls when he did (21 disqualifications in 1,270 games while never failing to play proper defense).”
And this, an ode to the old-school performer: “Seven million career three-point plays, and, in almost all of them, the basket coming with him laying on the floor watching the ball drop through the hoop.”
And lastly: “Taking more shots than anyone in NBA history except Wilt.”
Video footage of Hondo’s final game (see below) at the old Boston Garden shows the fans’ great respect and admiration for him.
In short, there could not have been a greater tribute to the great John Havlicek.