Where Are They Now? - John Havlicek

Where Are They Now? - John Havlicek

When someone says the name, 'John Havlicek', images come to mind of the #17 in a green or white Celtics uniform jersey, or of a slender 6-5 guard-forward constantly running up and down the famed Boston Garden parquet floor or maybe being remembered as the Celtics' all-time leading scorer (26,395 points), most games played (1,270 career games) or the most minutes logged in the proud history of the franchise (46,471 minutes).

Perhaps what you did not know that about #17 John Havlicek was his strong connection to the state of Ohio. Born in Martins Ferry, Ohio, John was a three-sport standout athlete at Bridgeport (Ohio) High School. He starred in basketball, football and baseball - an All-State selection in all three sports (he could pass the pigskin 80 yards with ease). He went on from high school, focusing on basketball, and chose Ohio State. A collegiate All-American, Havlicek average 14.6 points per game in three varsity seasons and played with Buckeye teammates Jerry Lucas, Bobby Knight and future Celtics teammate Larry Siegfried. His Ohio State teams compiled an impressive 78-6 record and captured the NCAA Championship in 1960.

The in-state professional football team, the NFL's Cleveland Browns, selected John in the seventh round of the 1962 NFL Draft. But an east coast NBA powerhouse basketball franchise always liked what they saw in Havlicek and the Celtics drafted him in the first round of the NBA Draft. Again, Havlicek turned his full attention to basketball and history was made.

John Havlicek played 16 seasons for the Boston Celtics. He was the first player to score 1,000 points in all 16 consecutive seasons. He was a 13-time NBA All-Star; he helped to lead the Celtics to eight world championship titles; he was named the 1974 NBA Final Most Valuable Player; he was named to the NBA's 35th Anniversary Team and is one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. In 1984, he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Celtics.com's Jeff Twiss recently caught up with John, who was attending the Celtics home and season opener vs. the Miami Heat.

As a former Celtics great, would you share with us what you are doing today?

Havlicek: "Well I spent four months in Weston (Mass.), four months on Cape Cod, four months in Florida and I still have three Wendy's (fast-food restaurants). I also own a piece of a food company in Ohio. I do some PR for a company in Leominster (Mass.) and also freelancing for whatever comes up."

How did you get involved in the Wendy's restaurant business?

Havlicek: "Dave Thomas, who was the founder, was a friend of mine and he named it after his daughter, Wendy. Wendy used to baby-sit for me in Columbus, Ohio. So I go back a long way with them. In about a week or so, I'm going to Florida to be with Dave's wife at a dinner as Dave was very much involved with adoption and those causes. They are making an award presentation to someone and she just wanted someone to be there who knew Dave well and asked me if I would be there and I said, 'absolutely.'

How has the NBA or the game of basketball changed since your playing days?

Havlicek: "Oh yeah, we used to get $8.00 a day for meal money. I think it's about $90.00 today! Of course the salaries are astronomical, I mean, the minimum today is something like, $400,000.

The average is $4.3 million. I made $2 million in 16 years and I think I probably make that in about 8 games today. So, that sure has changed and it's a different world with all the media and the communications involved today. When I played, you get a game every Sunday. During the basketball season now, you can watch 4 or 5 games a night if you want to. There is a great deal of exposure, which brings in a lot of money from television rights. Also the marketing of equipment and various things worldwide is just astronomical. It's a totally different scenario but I wouldn't change my era for anything. I really enjoyed it. I think we had as much fun as they do today, or, maybe, even a little more.

The conveniences they (the players) have with travel today should make them feel very special because if they want to go back to the dark ages they should just take them on one commercial flight, in coach, once a year just to see how good they have it. But, hey, more power to them. I think the athletes today are bigger, stronger, faster but I don't think they are necessarily as fundamental as we were. We, in the off-season, had to, basically, look for off-season employment because we didn't make a great deal of money. Today they (the players) can train all year round and by being able to do that they should be better athletes."

Was there anything special you learned by being a Celtic?

Havlicek: "Well, I learned it takes twelve men to win a championship. We probably played eight players but Red always worked out the ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth man out routinely at practices because injuries involving throughout the course of the season would take a toll and he wanted them ready. Red always made sure they were in shape so that they could contribute when the time came.

If you look at the teams we had, no one ever led anything statistically. it was very well balanced and, at times, we would have 7 or 8 guys averaging in double figures. The thing that I miss today is the running game. I don't think they run as much today. I think that's the easiest way to score. I think, to an extent, there is a lot of over-coaching. Red never had an assistant. He was the coach. If you look at most benches today, the players hardly have a seat because there are so many coaches. But, I guess, that is all part of the program today, so I'm not going to knock it."

Do you have any other final thoughts that you would like to share?

Havlicek: "I guess, my best times were winning championships. I remember my first one. I remember the one where I stole the ball. I remember the sixth one, where L.A. was favored and expected to win and we, sort of, came up with a miracle and we were able to win in seven games out there and that was very special. Then winning after Bill Russell retired, the first championship without him, was, I guess, my team or whatever and that meant a great deal to me."


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