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Sixteen sweet seasons

Catching up with John Havlicek

He is the centerpiece of one of the most famous calls in sports history.

John Havlicek’s 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 couldn’t 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 it’s all about and I was fortunate enough to be on those teams. It’s hard to say I didn’t 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 Wendy’s 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 Wendy’s, 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 he’s retired.

“I think golf is a pastime that a lot of people enjoy,” Havlicek said. “I bird hunt but I don’t 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 doesn’t hurt to be on a team that’s 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 State’s) 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 didn’t 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. It’s 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.”


The Havlicek File
NAME: John Havlicek

BIRTHDAY: April 8, 1940

RESIDES: Weston, Massachusetts

WHERE DID YOU GROW UP: Martins Ferry, Ohio

ENJOYS: Golfing, hunting and fishing

CLAIM TO FAME: Played 16 seasons with the Celtics and won eight NBA titles. A member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, Havlicek was a 13-time all star and is Boston's all-time leading scorer with 26,395 points, most games played (1,270), most minutes logged (46,471) and his No. 17 hangs proudly above the parquet.

DID YOU KNOW? Havlicek was drafted in the seventh-round by the Cleveland Browns

GREATEST BASKETBALL YOU PLAYED WITH/AGAINST: Bill Russell/Oscar Robertson

CURRENT BASKETBALL PLAYER YOU MOST ADMIRE: Tim Duncan

ONE WORD TO DESCRIBE BOSTON CELTICS FANS: Believers

FAVORITE THING ABOUT NEW ENGLAND: Many pluses

WOULD YOU EVER PARTICIPATE IN A REALITY TV SHOW: Probably not

IF YOU COULD CLONE ANYONE, WHO WOULD IT BE: Myself

IF YOU HAD ONE WISH, WHAT WOULD IT BE: I wouldn't change anything

EVER WALK THE FREEDOM TRAIL: I don't know end to end, but I have walked part of it

CLAM CHOWDA OR LOBSTA: Both

DO YOU KNOW WHAT A BUBBLER (WATER FOUNTAIN) IS: Yes a fountain

CANDLEPIN BOWLING OR BIG BALL BOWLING: Big Ball

WILL THE NHL START ON TIME NEXT SEASON: Your guess is as good as mine

DID YOU WATCH THE RED SOX WIN THE WORLD SERIES. IF YES, WHERE: Yes and I was at home

2005 PICK TO WIN THE NBA CHAMPIONSHIP: San Antonio Spurs
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