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Source: Celtics.com

When you spend 16 seasons playing for the same franchise in any sport, you become an immortalized figure in that town. When you win a title in half of those seasons, you become a legend of the game itself.

John Havlicek, dubbed with the nickname “Hondo,” is one of the most legendary players in NBA and Boston Celtics history. He played all 16 of his NBA seasons in Boston and took home the championship in eight of them. Standing two rings shy of owning one for every finger, Havlicek is the third-winningest player in NBA history. Only fellow Celtics and teammates Bill Russell and Sam Jones have won more championships than Hondo.

One of the most athletic players to enter the NBA in his generation, Havlicek burst onto the scene in 1962-63 as a high-powered reserve. His rookie season included averages of 14.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG and 2.2 APG. His rebounding and assist numbers would be generally consistent for the next five seasons, but his scoring output jumped dramatically.

Havlicek’s offensive repertoire grew year after year and helped his scoring average jump all the way to 28.9 PPG in 1970-71. That season, which was the highest-scoring campaign of his career, was the fifth of his eight consecutive seasons of averaging at least 20.7 PPG.

While he became known for his scoring, Havlicek was also able to turn up his assist totals later in his career. He averaged at least 4.0 APG in each of his final 11 seasons – he did not average that many in any of his first five – and maxed out with consecutive seasons of averaging 7.5 APG in 1970-71 and 1971-72.

Keep in mind that all of these numbers, numbers that consistently pushed a season average of a triple-double, were accumulated as a full-time reserve. Havlicek is undoubtedly the greatest “reserve” the NBA has ever seen.

The Celtics legend finished his career with astonishing numbers, including averages of 20.8 PPG, 6.3 RPG and 4.8 APG, all the while being known as one of the best defenders in the game. He tallied 26,395 points in his career and made the All-Defensive First- or Second-team eight times.

Havlicek’s most notable moment arrived on April 15, 1965, when he played the key role in one of the most historic moments in NBA history. After Bill Russell turned the ball over in the waning moments of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals – due to a pass that deflected off of a wire, no less – Havlicek stepped in to steal Philadelphia’s ensuing inbound pass, tossed by Hal Greer. Havlicek tipped the ball ahead to the aforementioned Jones, and the legendary call by Johnny Most still rings loud and clear to NBA fans: “Havlicek stole the ball! It’s all over! It’s all over!” The Celtics went on to win the NBA title that season.

His list of accolades could be stacked as high as any other player’s in NBA history. Havlicek won eight championships, including one NBA Finals MVP performance (1974). He made 13 All-Star appearances and made the All-NBA First Team four times and Second Team seven times. The NBA selected him to its 35th anniversary team as well as the renowned 50 Greatest Players in NBA History team. He was honored as an inductee to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984, about six years after the Celtics retired his No. 17 jersey on Oct. 13, 1978.

Havlicek was a revolutionary athlete who chose to display his talents in the NBA and do so without an ego. After being drafted by the Cleveland Browns of the NFL, he chose instead to devote his time to the Celtics. In doing so, he accepted and excelled in the role of reserve. Havlicek’s legend was born in Boston, and it grew to the level of an all-time NBA great.

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