- Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West and more pay tribute following the death of Celtics legend John Havlicek.
The NBA has lost one of the greatest, and most beloved players, in its 72-year history. Basketball Hall of Famer and Celtics legend John Havlicek passed away Thursday at the age of 79.
Havlicek was an eight-time NBA champion with the Celtics and made 13 All-Star Games over his 16-year career. He racked up 11 All-NBA appearances, eight All-Defense appearances and ranks No. 16 on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
But Havlicek was best known for his hustle and his heart. "Hondo" was known as the "perpetual motion machine" during his heydey with the Celtics, hounding opponents on the floor and wearing them down. His most famous play came in the 1965 Eastern Conference finals when he stole the inbounds pass to seal the victory and Boston's play-by-play announcer Johnny Most exclaimed: "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!"
On Thursday, NBA stars, legends and journalists reacted to passing of Havlicek. Below is a roundup of their tributes. (Click here to see SI's classic photos of "Hondo.")
It is getting difficult each time I hear about another contemporary that passes! What is harder is when we lose guys like John Havlicek, he was not just a teammate & a great guy, but he was family. That is how our @celtics teams were. #RIP Hondo @NBA #RIPJohnHavlicek @NBAonTNT pic.twitter.com/VP9MGPjrmZ— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) April 26, 2019
Just spoke with Jerry West on the passing of John Havlicek. "The thing with John, he competed against you at the highest level and he wanted to win badly," West tells ESPN. "But he was always a really nice person. I don’t think that I ever heard anyone say a bad word about John."— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 26, 2019
I met John Havlicek at the same time & place that I met Red Auerbach & Bill Russell @ my high school gym in Autumn of 1961 - my freshman year. He was still playing when I entered the league & our friendship grew... #17 will always be class act! RIP @NBA— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33) April 26, 2019
Former U.S. Senator and two-time NBA champion Bill Bradley
"For ten years, John Havlicek was my toughest opponent in the biggest rivalry in the league. Night after night he was the epitome of constant motion. He only needed half a step to beat me, which he usually did. He was the quintessential Celtic—unselfish and loyal—and through the players’ union he helped make the game more just by ending the reserve clause. The only thing he loved more than the game was his family. He’ll always be with them."
I’m sad to hear about the passing of one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history, John Havlicek. 13x All Star, 8x Champion, Finals MVP, and Hall Famer, John was a champion on the court and in the community.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 26, 2019
John Havlicek has passed at age 79. This is an immense personal loss, as well as professional. If all professional athletes— Bob Ryan (@GlobeBobRyan) April 26, 2019
carried themselves as well as he did, sport would be a far better place.
RIP to the great John Havlicek. Prayers to his family.— 🏁 Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) April 26, 2019
20 years ago I arrive at midnight to a little ranch house SI has rented at the Masters. Tiptoeing down a dark hall, looking for my room, I’m startled by a tall, kind man outside the bathroom. “Hi,” he says, toothbrush in hand. “I’m John Havlicek.”— Steve Rushin (@SteveRushin) April 26, 2019
“Of course you are,” I reply.