Ohio State University

John Havlicek: Ohio State University Profile

Though he’s a basketball legend, John Havlicek was also an all-around tremendous athlete. With a chance to play in the NFL, Havlicek briefly considered playing professional American football. But it was basketball that captured his passion. He displayed tremendous physical performance and sportsmanship while playing college basketball at Ohio State University, where he went on to win the 1960 NCAA title.

Ohio State University

Chis Havlicek's father, John Havlicek honored for Ohio State Basketball

Playing in college with Jerry Lucas and Bobby Knight, Havlicek’s success in college was what allowed him to be selected as an alternate to the 1960 Olympic Games United Sates Basketball Team. His constant awareness on the court, stamina and professional attitude when it came to playing the game all made him one of the most standout players who ever lived. And in 1962, it was these talents that would capture the attention of two teams from two entirely different leagues.

The Celtics legend could’ve very easily been known for a career with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, as he was drafted for both teams in 1962. As a three-sport athlete in high school, Havlicek developed strong athletic versatility. It would be a difficult choice as he excelled in both football and basketball. But a decision had to be made, and little do most people know, Havlicek actually sought out football initially.
Pursuing the offer from the Cleveland Browns first, Havlicek actually went on to play as wide receiver in their training camps. Deeming it not to be the experience he desired, he began contemplating the thought of a potential career with the Boston Celtics. He would eventually pursue this idea and focus entirely on playing basketball. This, ultimately, was where his prowess as an athlete would truly shine.

But it was his experience in Ohio State University, playing different sports, that truly shaped him into the proficient athlete that would go on to grace the Celtics for years to come. The effect rippled through the NBA, and it was his raw athleticism that inspired former head coach Red Auerbach to describe Havlicek as the “guts of the team.”