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YouTube Gold: Tom Heinsohn On John Havlicek

The man was simply unbelievable

Boston Celtics Training Camp
BROOKLINE, MA - SEPTEMBER 14: From left, Boston Celtics general manager Red Auerbach, captain Tom Havlicek and coach Tom Heinsohn stand together on the opening day of Celtics training camp at Hellenic College in Brookline, MA on Sep. 14, 1970.
Photo by Frank O’Brien/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

John Havlicek was a remarkable athlete. He could easily have played pro football coming out of Ohio State but chose basketball and in basketball, his conditioning and his talent put him in a unique category.

With the Boston Celtics, he started as a sixth man before later becoming the heart of the team in the post-Bill Russell era in the 1970’s.

It’s possible that, even today, he may have been the best running player in the history of the game. We don’t mean just fast breaks. He ran the entire game. Havlicek never stood still and because of that, his opportunities increased tremendously.

In this video, Tom Heinsohn, who was first his teammate and later his coach, talks about what a brilliant basketball player Havlicek was and how relentlessly focused he could be. This was evident during the dynasty years when he was such a brilliant sixth man and later when he continued to excel well into his thirties.

Havlicek retired in 1978 and later said that if he had known Larry Bird was coming he would have hung on for a few more years.

He was 38 at the time.