THE JO JO WHITE COLLECTION
On June 4, 1976, the Boston Celtics were hosting the Phoenix Suns in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The series was tied at two games apiece and something had to give. As it turned out, both teams gave as much as they could and the veteran Celtics outlasted the upstart Suns, 128-126, in a triple-overtime thriller. It was the first NBA Finals game ever to go into triple overtime and the lone Boston player who battled nearly the entire game (60-plus minutes’ worth) was 6’ 3” point guard Jo Jo White.
As the team’s sharp-shooting floor general, White led all scorers that evening with 33 points. It was an exhaustive effort that defined White’s career and helped the Celtics inch closer toward their 13th NBA championship, which they wrapped up two nights later. Averaging 21.4 points, 4.3 boards and 5.8 assists for six straight games, White was named the NBA Finals MVP.
Joseph Henry “Jo Jo” White started playing basketball at the age of six. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, his talents brought him to nearby Kansas University where he starred for the Jayhawks for four straight years. In fact, in his first season at KU, White led the team all the way to the NCAA Midwest Regional Final where they faced Texas Western, the same team chronicled in the 2006 movie “Glory Road.”
In what turned out to be an 81-80 double-overtime win for Texas Western – the team went on to win the NCAA title a week later by beating a juggernaut Kentucky squad – the game could have just as easily sent the Jayhawks to the Final Four. With time winding down in the first OT and the score tied at 71, White put up a 35-footer that scored just as the buzzer sounded. The trailing official, however, ruled White stepped on the out-of-bounds line before taking his shot. The basket was nullified and the teams battled into a second, decisive overtime.
The Jayhawks would never again go as deep into the tourney during White’s tenure, but accolades for him were just around the corner. He was named to the All-Big Eight team for three straight years (1967-69) and was a consensus NCAA All-America Second Team pick in both 1968 and ’69. In the summer of ‘68, White was named to the U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball Team and helped the squad go undefeated (8-0) in Mexico City before knocking off Yugoslavia in the gold-medal-clinching game, 65-50. White averaged 11.7 points per game.
A prolific NBA career awaited White as he was selected ninth overall by the Celtics in the ‘69 Draft. Although Bill Russell and Sam Jones retired after the ’68 season, White joined returning Celtics’ mainstays John Havlicek and Satch Sanders. With former Celtics’ standout Tommy Heinsohn taking over as head coach and Florida State center Dave Cowens joining the team in 1970, a new era in Boston’s rich basketball history was just getting started.
Over the next 10 seasons, White – wearing No. 10 – would establish himself as the team’s preeminent point guard and steer the Celtics to a pair of NBA titles: 1974 and ’76. He became one of pro basketball’s first “iron men” as he played in all 82 games for five consecutive seasons (1973 to ‘77) and set a franchise record of 488 consecutive games played. In 13 NBA seasons, he was named an All-Star seven times and averaged 17.2 points per game.
On April 9, 1982, the Celtics retired his jersey number and hung it from the rafters at the Boston Garden. Earlier this year White was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. If ever there was a player who defined “Celtic Pride,” it was Jo Jo White.
JO JO WHITE’S 1976 BOSTON CELTICS NBA CHAMPIONSHIP RING ISSUED IN REPLACEMENT OF WHITE’S LOST ORIGINAL (WHITE LOA) $18,368
JO JO WHITE’S 1974 BOSTON CELTICS NBA CHAMPIONSHIP RING ISSUED IN REPLACEMENT OF WHITE’S LOST ORIGINAL (WHITE LOA) $18,368