John Havlicek, Hall of Famer and Celtics legend, dies at 79

John Havlicek, who won eight NBA championships with the Boston Celtics and was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984, died Thursday. He was 79.

Havlicek suffered from Parkinson’s disease, and the team confirmed his death in a statement.

"His defining traits as a player were his relentless hustle and wholehearted commitment to team over self," the team said. "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."

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.

A statement from the Celtics:

Havlicek averaged 20.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists in his 16-year career with the Celtics. He was part of a glorious era in Celtics history when the team had a collection of players led by Hall of Famers Bill Russell on the court and Red Auerbach as coach.

He is the Celtics’ all-time leading scorer with 26,395 points, was named to the All-Star team 13 times and was the 1974 Finals MVP. At 6-5, Havlicek played guard and forward and was a workhorse. He played in at least 75 games in every season of his career, including all 82 games five times. He led the league in minutes played twice and played more than 40 minutes per game in five seasons.

The Celtics were dominant, and Havlicek’s selflessness defined Celtics basketball. He also played a significant part in one of the most famous plays in Celtics history.

In Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Philadelphia 76ers and Wilt Chamberlain in 1965, Havlicek knocked the ball to a teammate on a Sixers inbounds play, leading Celtics play-by-play man Johnny Most to yell, "Havlicek steals it. Over to Sam Jones. Havlicek stole the ball! It's all over! It's all over! Johnny Havlicek is being mobbed by the fans!"

John Havlicek was an eight-time champion and 13-time All-Star with the Celtics. (Photo: Rich Pilling, NBAE/Getty Images)

“John Havlicek was a wonderful friend who represented the best of the NBA," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "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."

Born in Martins Ferry, Ohio, Havlicek excelled in basketball, football and baseball in high school. He attended Ohio State and teamed up with Jerry Lucas and Bob Knight to win the 1960 NCAA championship.

Nicknamed Hondo, he was drafted with the No. 7 overall pick by Boston in 1962. The Celtics were loaded with Russell, Bob Cousy, Tom Heinsohn, K.C. Jones, Sam Jones and Satch Sanders. Havlicek, who loved to run on the fastbreak, perfected the sixth man role with his energy, hustle, tenacity and talent.

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