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YouTube Gold: “Havlicek Stole The Ball!”

One of the more iconic moments in NBA history

Boston Celtics John Havlicek And Bill Russell
 BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: Boston Celtics John Havlicek, left, and Bill Russell, right, take a break on the bench during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers, April 15, 1965.
sPhoto by Charles B. Carey/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

When Bill Russell dominated the NBA, the Boston Celtics won 11 championships in 13 years. It was a run like no other in sports history. Russell essentially made championships inevitable.

But it wasn’t always easy. Take 1965.

Boston was up by one after Wilt Chamberlain scored late with just seconds to go. But when Russell took the ball out,in those days the basket was supported by guy wires on the four corners of the backboard.

Russell’s inbounds hit one and Philly got the ball back.

In the huddle, Russell, who was so often the hero, was begging his teammates to bail him out.

Fortunately for him, John Havlicek was listening.

When Philadelphia’s Hal Greer tried to bring the ball in, Havlicek was counting and knew Greer had to act. And when he did, Havlicek stepped in front of Chet Walker to knock the ball loose. Sam Jones picked it up and Boston headed downcourt and that was ballgame.

Boston announcer Johnny Most cried out “Havlicek steals it! Havlicek stole the ball! It’s all over!”

His call of Havlicek’s stunning play remains one of the great treasures of sports broadcasting.