JoJo White Chats
JoJo White Chats
JoJo White was the consummate professional basketball player. He was durable and displayed discipline; he was a tenacious defender; he was a superb jump shooter and very underrated playmaker; and he was a leader.
The 6-3 guard was such a dynamic and gifted all-around athlete that the NFL Dallas Cowboys and the Cincinnati Reds both drafted him. White, however, chose basketball and the Celtics. He abandoned his successful walk-up collegiate style of basketball to ignite and propel Boston's famed fast-breaking attack and was an inspiring source of both playing and scoring consistency in the 1970's.
White may have invented the term, "ironman streak," in the NBA. From the 1972-73 season through the 1976-77 campaign, five consecutive seasons, White played in all 82 regular season games for the Celtics -- a measure that is unheard of today. To accentuate matters, for seven straight seasons White logged more than 3200 minutes per season. There is little argument why he was named to the NBA All-Star Team each of those seven years.
He reached the pinnacle of his career in 1976. On June 4 at the hot, jam-packed Boston Garden in Game 5 of the NBA Championship Finals against the Phoenix Suns, White calmly and quietly led the Celtics with 33 points spread out over 60 minutes in the 128-126 triple-overtime victory. It was easy to see why No. 10 was crowned the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player.
White remains with the Celtics organization, serving as Director of Special Projects and Community Relations Representative. Jo Jo chatted live on June 4. See what he had to say.
George from [126.96.36.199] at 1:01pm ET
How vividly do you remember the events of the game? A lot of times athletes can decribe exactly what happened in a game. Is this still the case? Is the game "frozen in time" for you?
Jo Jo White at 1:02pm ET
This I would say is frozen in time. I happened to be on the floor for 60 minutes of the game. I vividly remember just about every play made during that game.
bisquet from [188.8.131.52] at 1:02pm ET
Do you think that that Game 5 was the "Greatest Game Ever Played?" Why or why not? What do you think are some of the game's other "Greatest Games?"
Jo Jo White at 1:05pm ET
I personally would have to say it was one of the greatest games, and I was very happy to be a part of it. It had so many heroes in it. Certainly it was the longest game I'd ever been in, with so many players making so many big shots. It was draining. It was strenuous. You had to reach down for everything you had to pull out a victory. It had all the dramatics that anyone could ask for.
I happened to be in a similar that went into double overtime against Milwaukee. We were in a position to win the championship at home, and with six seconds to go, we were up by one. We played as good a defense as we could during those six seconds, but Kareem pulls up and hits a hook shot from the corner. So that was another dramatic ending in a great game. That ended up tying the series, but we went on to win it in Milwaukee.
George from [184.108.40.206] at 1:05pm ET
Did you get tired during the triple OT game, or did the intensity of the game lift you to a level at which fatigue was not a factor?
Jo Jo White at 1:07pm ET
Fatigue became a factor. I was tired, but I was conditioned to go the distance, so my thinking was that if I was tired, the other players were close to death. So that gave me motivation to push on, and any athlete worth his salt would want to be on the floor for that game, and I was up to the task.
slammin joe from [220.127.116.11] at 1:08pm ET
Back then I imagine not too many people knew much about the Phoenix Suns. Did you envision that series being as tight as it was?
Jo Jo White at 1:10pm ET
I felt that if they were there, they'd been playing well enough to be there and were a worthy opponent. Certainly the papers were saying that we should sweep them, and we ran away with the first two games, so we felt we had the better team. But after we went to Phoenix and came back to Boston, we knew we were in a dogfight and we'd really have to lace them up to win the series.
Terence O'Toole from [18.104.22.168] at 1:10pm ET
Thanks for inspiring me to play basketball -- I can still remember coming home from church on Sundays, turning on the TV and watching you and the Celtics, and then learning some fundamentals with "Red on Roundball" at halftime!
What's your current take on the NBA, and how do you think your great Celtic teams would match up with today's 76ers or Lakers?
Jo Jo White at 1:12pm ET
I think our league now is a very young league with tremendous talent. I don't necessarily agree with the rules that allow young players to come in so early. There should be some guidelines to allow them to get some college experience, or at least have some kind of age limitation so that they can deal emotionally and mentally with the league.
In terms of our teams, I don't think we'd have a problem competing. During my era, I was fortunate enough to be playing alongside four professionals. Sometimes guys had to get their teammates up and ready to play, but I never had to worry about it, which was a luxury to me. I think our team could have stacked up with any of the great teams out there.
Bad knee Joe from [22.214.171.124] at 1:12pm ET
Did you give much serious consideration for playing for Cowboys after they drafted you and did you think about playing both sports, a la Bo Jackson, etc.?
Jo Jo White at 1:13pm ET
It never really entered my mind. I loved all sports, but even at a young age, I migrated back to basketball. So once I had the opportunity to play basketball professionally, I never considered anything else.
Celtics fan from [126.96.36.199] at 1:13pm ET
NBA battle of the century: who would win in the Bill Russell vs. Shaquille O'Neal?
Jo Jo White at 1:16pm ET
I would venture to say that in my opinion, Bill was the most dominant center for the money. I had the fortune and sometimes misfortune to play against Wilt Chamberlain, who was the most dominant player I'd ever seen. But what set Bill apart was that he knew how to win. I don't think knowledge-wise that Shaquille is in the same league as Bill. Talent-wise, he's as good as any player I've seen in this era. Some of the dominant centers of this era are on their way out, so he stands out on his own and benefits from not really having to play against dominant centers night in and night out. He's improved tremendously, and at this point he's realizing just how dominant he can be.
divalicious from [188.8.131.52] at 1:16pm ET
What do you think of the rule changes? will they help the game?
Jo Jo White at 1:17pm ET
I think it will help it get back to a team game. With the zone defense, you can take the ball out of the hands of the dominant players, and make them play team ball, which will be beneficial to the league.
Greg from [184.108.40.206] at 1:18pm ET
What does the Celtics need to do to get a championship caliber team?
Jo Jo White at 1:20pm ET
We're closer than a lot of people realize. We have a fine nucleus in Pierce and Walker. And we've had a real surprise in Palacio. Then we've got fit-in players like Potapenko and Stith who have been pleasant surprises. It all depends on the decisions that are made over the summer, but we could very well be back in the thick of it next season. The coach brings the type of sensitivity and attitude we need over there on the bench. It's just a matter of making a few decisions and getting some help for the nucleus we have.
celticpride from [220.127.116.11] at 1:20pm ET
What are your thoughts on this year's draft? Any ideas what the Celtics might be looking for or what you think they should pick up?
Jo Jo White at 1:21pm ET
I know we have to look at the point guard area. We should try to get the best we can find there, and if we can find someone who can fit in or back up at center or power forward, we'll be looking at that as well. And there will be some availability of players in free agency too. The decisions will be the big key.
JONI from [18.104.22.168] at 1:22pm ET
Who was the toughest player you had to play against?
Jo Jo White at 1:23pm ET
Ooh! There are a lot. You really have to have a book on the league and on the players. The toughest ... I'd have to say between Oscar Robertson and Jerry West in terms of the game itself. They were great at what they did, and you had to be on top of your game every time you played with them. And they were great every time you played with them.
brig from [22.214.171.124] at 1:23pm ET
As an NBA legend, who do you think has the most potential to lead the NBA in the new era?
Jo Jo White at 1:27pm ET
Two of them are right on track now. Shaquille has done extremely well, and outside of the sport he's handled himself very well. In terms of talent, Kobe has started to mature. Allen Iverson has grown tremendously in terms of his approach, attitude, outlook, understanding -- it's a position of leadership he has to be conscious of. Tracy McGrady has had the opportunity to not play in the shadow of Vince Carter and show what Tracy McGrady is all about. I think Paul Pierce is as good as any of them, but a lot of people haven't seen all he can do. Antoine Walker is a tremendous talent. They both have work to do in recognizing and understanding the game, but they could be a tremendous 1-2 punch. Ray Allen too is showing his worth in the playoffs. Tim Duncan is another very special player, and in my mind, another great one on the horizon. Rasheed Wallace, if someone would ever sit down and talk to him. He'd be surprised how far he could go if he'd ever sit down and shut his mouth.
Sammy from [126.96.36.199], at 1:27pm ET
How many times have you seen that triple-overtime game since?
Jo Jo White at 1:28pm ET
For inspiration sometimes, I'll put in the tape. I still kind of get chills, even though I know every play that's coming up. It gives me goosebumps just to watch it.
Celtic Fan from [188.8.131.52] at 1:29pm ET
After Gar Heard's shot, was it tough emotionally to get back out on the court and play that third OT?
Jo Jo White at 1:31pm ET
It might have been for some of the guys, but that's how the game was going. John hit a shot off the glass just prior to that that no one expected to go in. Those plays were so incredible, being out there and witnessing them, they didn't surprise me, because that's how the game was going. My thinking was, it only tied up the score, and it was a shot that one of their guys had to make to stay in the game.
Patrick from [184.108.40.206] at 1:31pm ET
How would you describe the atmosphere of the Garden during that Game 5, in particular during the overtimes?
Jo Jo White at 1:32pm ET
The intensity was high enough that you could cut it with a knife. This was from the time we took the floor to the time the game ended. And even after the game, the atmosphere intensity was still there.
Jo Jo White at 1:35pm ET
I'm honored to have been a part of the Celtics organization, but in that series, to have been on the floor and now share those memories -- not only with teammates but with our opponents -- about a great game is really an honor. To all the fans, I hope they enjoyed it as much as we did, and I just thank God that we were victorious at the end.