How would you rank John Havlicek?
Obviously the talk of the day will be MIA-IND game 6, but I just stumbled upon videos that reminded me of how truly unique a player John Havlicek was.
He's not talked about as much as other legends from his era, but his career is very interesting because of how it reflects on the usual arguments used to rank players.
Some things in particular that make him an anomaly:
- He's got 8 championship rings. That is a ridiculous number in and of itself. But he wasn't a Horry type of player in those championships, far from it.
In the first championships he was a star masquerading as a sixth man ala Ginobili. Then, he actually won two more championships without Russell, a fact that isn't stressed often enough. In the 1974 championship he averaged 27, 6.5 and 6 on 48% shooting and won Finals MVP, at age 33. His career playoff averages: 22, 7 and 5. In his best statistical regular season, he averaged 29, 9 and 7.5. Of course you can bring up the pace, but whatever the pace is you don't get LeBron stats if you're just a complementary player.
He was an elite star, an all-around player who could also function as the first scoring option, a first class defender, clutch as hell, almost never missed a game... and also won 8 championships.
- He's a living counter-argument to weak era claims. Havlicek started his career in 1962, while Bob Pettit (who'd played against George Mikan!) was still playing. But you also can see him score 29 in his last game in the NBA 1978... He averaged 18, 5 and 5 at 36 years old in Julius Erving's rookie year in the league. Moses Malone, David Thompson, Robert Parish, Alex English, Adrian Dantley, Jack Sikma, Bernard King, and of course Kareem... those are some of the names of the people in the NBA at the time John Havlicek was still playing. His retirement was only six years removed from Jordan's arrival in the league.
In light of those facts, how would you rank him? And what do the arguments you would use in ranking him say about the way you rank other players?