Note: The NBA celebrates players from the NBA75 roster almost daily from now until the end of the season. Today’s honor is Jon Havlicek of the Celtics. This story about Havlicek appeared in the December 7, 1963, issue of Sports News under the title “Havlicek Gains Front Rank in Celt Galaxy.”

Boston, Massachusetts – Teams participating in the National Basketball Association are drafting in the reverse order of their lost-earnings records at the end of each season. It’s a gimmick designed to produce a compromise process where the weaker clubs get the first shot at the top college players and the stronger teams take the rest.

But it is not an infallible system because the human element is involved in it. Coaches and general managers still have to guess the best players. And while everyone can spot Elgin Baylor, not everyone can properly rate John Havlicek.

Back in 1962, every NBA team had a chance to draft Havlicek ahead of defending champion Boston Celtics, who picked ninth. The question is: Who is the idiot? And why?

“No one really cheated,” Boston Celtics coach Reed Auerbach said. “Havlicek was a respected, nationally acclaimed star in Ohio. But most of the teams that year were looking for the big guy. John wasn’t quite 6-5 and there should have been a question as to whether he could play in the corner.

“Of the eight players ahead of Havlicek (Bill McGill, Zelmo Petty, Paul Hogg, Lynne Chappelle, Jerry Lucas, Dave Debuschery, Wayne Hightower, and Leroy Ellis), no one was younger than 6-7. Better and McGill, for example. , he averaged 38 points in a single game in Utah.

“The reason the Celtics took John was because of his ability to run and play defense. We thought we could teach him the rest. We didn’t realize that at the time, but what we got was young Frank Ramsey.

“John has a lot of determination to aim. He’s not quite as ‘cute’ as Ramsay, who gives opponents a baby-face look and then sticks to their pants when they try to shoot. You get a lot of quick points.”

“He’s easy to train because his attitude is perfect. The best way to get along with me is to do what I say and John understands me well. I like players who hate losing and Havlicek is the type who gets upset when things don’t go well.

“On another team, John would have played more, maybe a regular. But I doubt he’d be a regular for the Celtics. He’s so valuable in fulfilling the old Ramsey job.”

“Actually, it is not important for five players to open your ball game. The players who will finally land on the ground are the ones who really count.

“Havlicek has mostly played in the backcourt this year. With the addition of Willie Naulls, as well as Ramsey, I didn’t need him up front. But even though he’s taller than most goalkeepers, he has all the reflexes and quick moves of a man.

“Basketball is a game of touch and playing with the pros, plus a lot of hard work, honing John’s performance. People often ask me if he would get better. Great smoke, I think the guy is pretty good now.”

One of the things the Celtics missed when Bill Sharman quit was a teammate who could do defensive work against people like Hal Greer of Philadelphia and Jerry West of Los Angeles.

Havlicek can make this kind of contribution without getting into huge trouble. His penchant for coming out with loose balls has also helped the Celtics break fast

Auerbach volunteered: “I thought this was a coincidence, but I know better now. John was simply taking his own breaks.”

Havlicek, a top scorer averaging 14 points per game, has been hovering near the 20 mark this year — with his pre-season high of 28 against Cincinnati.

When asked for an explanation, John traced his improvement to a huge confidence boost. “Last year, I was afraid to take a picture. This year, I’m not.

“You know, when you join a team like the Celtics, you can’t help but wonder how you would fit in. Before coming to Boston, I had an experience as a release again with the Cleveland Browns football team.

“I have no complaints about the treatment I received, but the Browns’ veteran players hardly spoke to the rookies.

“It was like there was a queue. They stayed by their side and we stayed in line.

“I thought it might be like that with the Celtics. It wasn’t the case. Not only was I received very warmly, but many players did their best to help me. I also liked Auerbach’s direct style.

“He told me that if I could run, block and play defense, I might get a job. Red is tough, but it’s also fair.

“Bob Cozy was also a huge help to me. At first I didn’t believe he was real. I knew Cozy was good, but I never realized how good he was until I started playing with him.”

“Kosey took me aside one day and told me I was overprotecting the ball – and that if I didn’t stop turning to the side for the guy who was covering me, I’d never get a pass.

“Bob told me to practice using my left as well as my right hand and bring the ball to the ground against my opponent. Otherwise, I’d never be able to see the free man properly.”

“I’m not saying the Celtics wouldn’t have won the East last year without Havlicic, but he sure would have been tougher. In my opinion, John has been the most consistent member of the team,” Kozy said.

The fact that John lost a vote close to the Rookie of the Year vote prompted Terry Dischinger of Chicago (now Baltimore) Celtics owner Walter Brown to award Havlicek a $200 bonus. This was the same money that Dischinger received from the league to win the award.

“I did it, because the whole thing seemed so unfair to me,” Brown said. “Dischinger was a great roar, but he wasn’t available for a while except on weekends and was performing in the last place team.

“I know what happened. The writers are looking to see who scored the most points. They failed to appreciate the importance of Havlicek’s overall game.”

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