The list of NBA players who are undefeated in the finals includes a lot of different types of players.
There are decent players who were good teammates like B.J. Armstrong, Mario Elie and Gerald Henderson. There are guys who were mostly lucky to be there like Randy Brown and Jud Buechler.
There are role players who won at outrageous rates like Robert Horry. There is a decent, if unspectacular, player who would go on to be a Hall of Fame type of coach in Steve Kerr.
John Havlicek is also on the short list of all-time greats who went undefeated in the NBA Finals. When ESPN ranked the 75 best players in NBA history, there was only one player on the list who was undefeated in the finals and ranked higher than John Hondo Havlicek: Michael Jordan.
John Havlicek’s finals record was 8-0. His Boston Celtics went 32-17 in NBA Finals games. Havlicek has the most championships of any player who was unbeaten in the Finals. He is the second best player in history to go undefeated in the NBA Finals after Michael Jordan.Embed from Getty Images
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What is John Havlicek’s Finals Record?
John Havlicek was unbeaten in NBA Finals at 8-0. His Boston Celtics went 32-17 in NBA Finals games.
Two of his teammates, K.C. Jones and Satch Sanders, went 8-0 as well, but neither of them is considered to be nearly as great a player as Havlicek.
Havlicek went 6-0 in NBA Finals alongside another of his great teammates: Bill Russell. Russell is one of two players in NBA history with more titles than Havlicek.
Russell finished with 11 in his unmatched career. Hondo’s last two titles came after Russell had retired.Embed from Getty Images
Sam Jones, another of Havlicek’s and Russell’s teammates on the Celtics, is the only other player with more titles than Hondo. Sam Jones made the list of 75 greatest players ever but ESPN ranked Jones well behind Russell and Havlicek.
Jones won all ten of his titles alongside Russell and shared 6 of them with Havlicek as well.
Below, you can see year-by-year playoff results for Havlicek’s Celtics.
|62-63||Won NBA Finals||4-2||LA Lakers|
|63-64||Won NBA Finals||4-1||SF Warriors|
|64-65||Won NBA Finals||4-1||LA Lakers|
|65-66||Won NBA Finals||4-3||LA Lakers|
|66-67||Lost East Div. Finals||1-4||Philadelphia 76ers|
|67-68||Won NBA Finals||4-2||LA Lakers|
|68-69||Won NBA Finals||4-3||LA Lakers|
|69-70||Did not make playoffs||N/A||Finished 6th in East|
|70-71||Did not make playoffs||N/A||Finished 3rd in Atlantic Division|
|71-72||Lost East Finals||1-4||NY Knicks|
|72-73||Lost East Finals||3-4||NY Knicks|
|73-74||Won NBA Finals||4-3||Milwaukee Bucks|
|74-75||Lost East Finals||2-4||Washington Bullets|
|75-76||Won NBA Finals||4-2||Phoenix Suns|
|76-77||Lost East Semis||3-4||Philadelphia 76ers|
|77-78||Did not make playoffs||N/A||Finished 3rd in Atlantic|
Who Did John Havlicek Beat in the Finals?
John Havlicek and his Boston Celtics beat a ton of great players and teams in the NBA Finals.
- In 1963 John Havlicek, Bill Russell and the Celtics beat two of the greatest players in NBA history in the Finals: Elgin Baylor and Jerry West. Baylor averaged 33 points and 15 boards per game for the Lakers while West chipped in with nearly 30 per game himself! Hondo was a rookie bench player at this point and only scored about 9 points per game for a more-balanced Celtics attack.
- In 1964 Havlicek’s Celtics got past Wilt Chamberlain’s San Francisco Warriors. Wilt averaged 29 points and 28 rebounds per game for the series. Hondo had his first great finals with 18 points per game for the C’s.
- In 1965 Havlicek, Russell and the C’s beat the Lakers again. This time it was just Jerry West starring for the Lakers as Elgin Baylor missed the series with an injured knee. West scored nearly 34 per game while Hondo had 18 again for a balanced C’s offense.
- In 1966 Havlicek and the Celtics beat Baylor and West’s Lakers again. The Lakers also featured rookie Gail Goodrich, but they still were not quite up to the task of defeating Russell, Havlicek and the C’s.
- In 1968, Havlicek and the C’s beat West, Baylor and the Lakers once again.
- In 1969 Havlicek and his Celtics defeated the LA Lakers one last time in Bill Russell’s final season. The Lakers still featured West, who scored 38 points per game, and Baylor. They also had added Wilt Chamberlain, but it was not enough to defeat the Celtics.
- In 1974, Havlicek, now paired with Dave Cowens and JoJo White, defeated the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks featured Kareem Abdul-Jabar and Oscar Robertson. Kareem scored nearly 33 points per game for the Bucks in a losing effort.
- In 1976 Havlicek and the C’s defeated the Phoenix Suns in a series featuring one of the greatest games in NBA history. Game 5 of the series saw the Celtics outlasting the Suns in triple overtime. The Suns had the weakest roster of any team Havlicek defeated in the finals, at least in star power. The team featured Alvan Adams, Paul Westphal and Gar Heard.
How Many NBA Finals MVPs Does John Havlicek Have?Embed from Getty Images
John Havlicek won one NBA Finals MVP – in the 1974 NBA FInals. In that series, Havlicek averaged 26 points, nearly 8 rebounds and 5 assists per game. He was the Celtics leading scorer in the team’s victory over Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Milwaukee Bucks.
The NBA Finals MVP is now named after Havlicek’s teammate Bill Russell, but the big man never won it!
That is because the first NBA Finals MVP was given in 1969, Russell’s last year as a player.
That year Jerry West won the Finals MVP despite his LA Lakers losing the title to Havlicek and Russell’s Celtics.
West is the only player from a losing team to win NBA Finals MVP. West averaged 38 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds per game in the 1969 Finals.
If West had not been so dominant in a losing effort, Havlicek, who scored 28 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out 4 assists per game for the C’s, would have had a strong case for the award.
The 1969 Finals were Havlicek’s fifth NBA Finals series.
In Havlicek’s first five NBA Finals, there was no MVP award given. If there had been, Havlicek would not likely have taken any of them as those teams were often balanced offensively and led clearly on defense by their leader Bill Russell.
In John Havlicek’s last NBA Finals victory in 1976 his teammate JoJo White was Finals MVP. White averaged nearly 22 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists per game for the C’s in their victory over the Phoenix Suns.
How Does John Havlicek’s Finals Record Compare to Other Great Players?
John Havlicek sits atop the list of all-time greats in terms of finals records. One thinks he would trade with teammate Bill Russell for 3 more titles. And there aren’t many people who would claim he is a better player than MJ despite winning two more titles. But the best finals record belongs John Havlicek nonetheless.
|Player||NBA Finals Record|
Summary: John Havlicek’s Finals Record
John Havlicek went 8-0 in NBA Finals series and 32-17 in NBA Finals games. Havlicek is tied with three teammates for 3rd on the list of most NBA titles with eight. Hondo is tied with two teammates for most wins of any player who was undefeated in the NBA Finals. He is widely considered the greatest NBA player to go undefeated in the finals besides Michael Jordan.
I have been a Boston sports fan for more than forty years. I write about games, players and seasons from the past.