John Havlicek's legacy was built over 16 years with the Boston Celtics, eight of them as NBA champions, making him among the best to ever play the game. One play immortalized him forever. "Havlicek stole the ball!" Celtics radio announcer Johnny Most screamed, a moment that remains among the famous plays in NBA history. The Celtics said Havlicek died Thursday in Jupiter, Florida. He was 79. The cause of death wasn't immediately available. The Boston Globe reports that he had Parkinson's disease. Voted one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history, Havlicek's steal of Hal Greer's inbound pass helped the Celtics hold off Philadelphia in the 1965 Eastern Conference final, the AP reports.
Nicknamed "Hondo" for his resemblance to John Wayne, the 6-foot-5 Havlicek was drafted ninth in the first round in 1962 out of Ohio State by a Celtics team stocked with stars Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, KC Jones, Sam Jones, Tom Sanders, Tom Heinsohn, and Frank Ramsey. Boston won championships in six of his first seven years. Havlicek was the MVP of the 1974 Finals and set Celtics career records for points and games. "John Havlicek is one of the most accomplished players in Boston Celtics history, and the face of many of the franchise's signature moments," the Celtics said in a statement. His No.17 was raised to the rafters in old Boston Garden and now resides in TD Garden, retired soon after he retired in 1978. (Read more Boston Celtics stories.)