Former Boston Celtics star and NBA Hall of Famer John Havlicek celebrates his 74th birthday today. As a kid I got to see  him play for three or four  years before he retired in 1978. Of course, at the time I did not realize  that the player I was watching would 40 years later still be considered one of the top 50 players of all-time. In 2009,  "Hondo" was ranked #17 on SLAM Magazine's list of the top 50 NBA players of all -time. He was a 13-time All-Star and won eight NBA Championships with the Celtics. When he retired in 1978, his #17 jersey was immediately retired at Boston Garden. Here are five more things you didn't know about John Havlicek.

1) What does Havlicek have in common with legendary chair-throwing coach Bobby Bobby Knight? Not much except they both played college ball at Ohio State. That team, with Knight as a reserve, was the National Championship in 1960.

2) Havlicek could have played professional football.  He was drafted in 1962 by both the Celtics and the Cleveland Browns. He competed briefly as a wide receiver in the Browns training camp that year, but  was released after playing in several exhibition games.



3) Havlicek's nickname "Hondo" was inspired by the John Wayne movie of the same name.

4) Havlicek's steal in the final seconds of the 1965 Eastern Conference Finals sealed the win for the Celtics and gave legendary announcer Johnny Most his most famous call.

5) For his career, Havlicek averaged more than 20 points and 6 rebounds per game, even though he did not become a starter until 1970. In 1980 he was named to the  NBA 35th Anniversary All-Time Team, and later was named to the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team. The legendary Bill Russell once called Havlicek "the best all-around player I ever saw."