Former Celtics All-Star and Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer Jo Jo White has died at 71 following a battle with cancer, the team confirmed on Tuesday.
"We are terribly saddened by the passing of the great Jo Jo White," the Celtics said via release. "He was a champion and a gentleman; supremely talented and brilliant on the court, and endlessly gracious off of it. Jo Jo was a key member of two championship teams, an NBA Finals MVP, a gold medal-winning Olympian, and a Hall of Famer.
"His contributions to the team’s championship legacy may have only been surpassed by the deep and lasting impact that he had in the community. The thoughts and sympathies of the entire Celtics organization are with the White family."
NBA commissioner Adam Silver also issued a statement:
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released the following statement regarding the passing of Jo Jo White pic.twitter.com/TN47G0vB8M— NBA (@NBA) January 17, 2018
White was a key cog in the Celtics return to championship heights in the 1970s, starting for their 1973-74 and 1975-76 title teams while making seven straight All-Star teams. The ninth pick in the 1969 draft out of Kansas, White played 10 seasons with the Celtics before finishing his career with the Warriors and the Kansas City Kings. He retired in 1981, and was selected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015. The Celtics retired his No. 10 in 1982.
In addition to his All-Star selection, White was All-Rookie in 1970 and MVP of the 1976 Finals. He averaged 17.2 points, 4.9 assists and 4.0 rebounds in 832 career appearances.
Caught up with Cedric Maxwell before tipoff of Celtics-Pelicans. He spoke glowingly of Jo Jo White: "And to hear that he's passed away now is just really a... it's going to be a tough day. It's going to be tough to do this game tonight."— Steve Bulpett (@SteveBHoop) January 17, 2018
Extremely sad to hear about the passing of @Hoophall@Celtic Great JoJo White, lost his fight with cancer. He was not just a great player, but a great person. #RIPJoJoWhite@NBA#CelticsNationhttps://t.co/exjlnSe0iT— TheBillRussell (@RealBillRussell) January 17, 2018