John Havlicek’s nickname Hondo was given to him by a childhood friend who could not pronounce his name easily. The friend chose the name Hondo because Havlicek reminded him of John Wayne’s character in the film named Hondo. Havkicek’s friend perceived him to be the strong, silent type like Hondo was in the film.
How did John Havlicek get his nickname?
John Havkicek got the nickname Hondo as a child. His friend had difficulty saying Havkicek’s last name. As someone who needs to look it up every time I spell it, I can understand his friend’s difficulty.
The friend called him Hondo after John Wayne’s character in the film of the same name. Havlicek’s friend thought he had some of the same strong, silent characteristics of Wayne’s Hondo. The name stuck throughout Havkicek’s life.
Hondo was a 1953 Warnercolor western film starring Wayne as an 1870’s cavalry officer fighting Apache Indians.
Interestingly, Warnercolor was a term for a type of color film made by the film company Eastman Kodak. Later Celtics great Larry Bird got the nickname Kodak because his first coach said he had a mind like a camera. So two great Celtics had Kodak-related nicknames.
What was Havlicek known for?
Hondo Havlicek was known for a wide variety of characteristics and accomplishments in his basketball career.
John “Hondo” Havlicek Was an All-Time Great Player
Havlicek is rightly known for being one of the greatest players in the history of basketball. Not only was Havlicek a 13 x All Star, he made eleven 1st and 2nd All NBA Teams.
He also made 8 1st or 2nd All NBA Defensive Team. Hondo was named to both the 50th and 75th anniversary NBA Teams as one of the greatest players in the history of the league. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984.
John “Hondo” Havlicek’s Was Known for Clutch Plays and Winning
Havlicek is also known for making huge plays in clutch moments and for being a winner.
Hondo is one of three players in NBA history to have an 8-0 record in NBA Finals. Hondo is tied for 3rd most titles in league history with 8.
He was no spare part in winning those titles either. Havlicek had two near triple doubles in finals games to lead the Celtics back from a 3-1 deficit to win the 1968 title. He was the MVP of the 1974 Finals.
Hondo also made one of the most iconic plays in league history in the 1965 Eastern Conference finals. The Celtics simply needed to inbound the ball to win the series vs Wilt Chamberlain’s 76ers. But Bill Russell’s attempted inbound pass hit a wire resulting in a turnover.
The 76ers got the ball and had a chance to win the game and the series. The SIxers attempted inbound pass, of course, was intercepted by Hondo in one of the greatest plays in league history. Johnny Most’s call of the play made it the defining moment in both his and Hondo’s career.
John “Hondo” Havlicek Was Known for His Incredible Stamina
Havlicek was also known for his almost inhuman stamina. The Celtics of Red Aurebach ran. And Havlicek was the leading runner of everyone. But he was not just fast. He could run all night.
Jerry West said about Havlicek “He’s a freak. His endurance is incredible”.
Pat Riley agreed saying , “There’s not a man in the NBA who can stay with John the whole game and survive. His body is made to go on forever.”
Havlicek knew his edge was running and stamina and he took advantage saying “My game is based on speed and stamina, wearing the opposition down.”
The evidence of that ridiculous stamina is somewhat hard to believe. Hondo played all but three minutes of the 1968 NBA Finals! And that was only because he fouled out!
When he turned 30, Hondo took it to a new level, averaging 46 minutes a game in the ‘70-’71 season. Safe to say there were no thoughts of load management going on.
John Havlicek had incredible speed that gave him an edge, but his real advantage was endurance and ability to run all night, every night in the NBA.
What nationality was John Havlicek?
John Havlicek was an American. He was born and raised in Bridgeport, Ohio and attended Ohio State University. His parents were of Czech and Croatian descent.
Havlicek played football, basketball and baseball at Bridgeport High School where he was friends with future Baseball Hall of Famer Phil Niekro.
Summary: John Havlicek’s Nickname
John Havlicek had a unique and defining nickname: Hondo. He got the name from a childhood friend who struggled pronouncing his name. The friend named him Hondo after John Wayne’s lead character in the western with the same name.
I have been a Boston sports fan for more than forty years. I write about games, players and seasons from the past.