Havlicek Stole the Ball and a Place in Boston Sport History – RIP John Havlicek

To say Boston has a rich Sport History is of course an understatement. Counting all 4 Major Sports there really is no other city that compares with what Boston’s teams and players have done across football, baseball, hockey and basketball as a collective. So to stand out from all that rich history and have a moment that will live forever in the hearts of Bostonian Sport Fans is truly a monumental achievement.

John “Hondo” Havlicek was a great basketball player for the Celtics, a legend, a Hall of Famer, but he will always and forever be remembered for one thing –

“Havlicek stole the ball!”

You don’t learn about John Havlicek in school. Nobody ever tells a young basketball player to go watch Havlicek highlights (though they should) :

“Havlicek stole the ball!” is something you just absorb unconsciously at a young age in Boston without even realizing what it means. You’re playing pickup ball and some old hoop head makes a steal and so they immediately yell “Havlicek stole the ball!” for no real reason. Then you see the clip as part of some random Celtics highlight package, maybe it’s an intro to a game on TV or just great moments in NBA history and you hear Johnny Most’s call and you watch as the frenzied Boston crowd swallows up Hondo in the corner as he tosses up a shot as the game ends and the refrain just seeps into your brain. “Havlicek stole the ball!” “Havlicek stole the ball!”

In the world of pro sports athletes come and go at a ridiculous pace. Some guys are there for mere days, others a few years and if the fans and the players are lucky maybe one or two spend an entire career with one city. The good ones are remembered fondly. The great ones are revered. But eventually as time passes on and new heroes are anointed even the best ones start to fade away from a city’s collective memory. Maybe they are trotted out every now and then for an anniversary or a special occasion and given a round of applause at halftime. But some, who had truly transcendent moments that bind together an entire city, those players get to live forever.

No matter how much time passes and how many more championships Boston teams win and how many new memories are made John Havlicek will always steal the ball.

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