Tag Archives: John Havlicek



A friend of mine took it upon himself to write a brief, eloquent letter of condolence this week to my wife in response to a death which has occurred in her immediate family.

Such letters are difficult to write.

His letter included the following sentence: “Losing a family member, no matter what the relationship, is always a difficult and jaring experience.”

I noted the word “jarring,” which he misspelled (consonants are usually doubled in words used thusly).

He used the word perfectly. Absolutely the right word to convey, in its figurative sense, his intended meaning.

The dictionary definition of jarring is as follows:

jarring (adjective)

1. incongruous in a striking or shocking way; clashing

2. causing a physical shock, jolt, or vibration (“the truck came to a jarring halt”)




Coincidentally, I got to thinking the other day about the legendary and colorful Boston Celtics play by play announcer Johnny Most.

He made up alliterative nicknames for his favorite players which were meant to convey — in Homeric fashion — something that made the player stand out, e.g.:

Big Bill (Russell);

Slippery Sam (Jones);


Jarrin’ John (Havlicek).

Jarrin’ John. A brilliant coinage. Perfectly suited to the player. Havlicek was wiry and was a perpetual motion machine; he seemed to be all over the court. One could imagine him all elbows and knees fighting for the ball, jostling for position.

Did I say jostling?

That word works too — in fact, it’s a closer match — but Jarrin’ John sounds better. Who else but Johnny Most would have come up with it?

Perhaps, somewhere, wherever the legendary, raspy voiced announcer is — “high above courtside” — he will manage to smile.


— Roger W. Smith

  February 2017




Sports announcer Johnny Most (1923- 1993) was the radio voice of the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association.

He was, according to a Wikipedia entry, “as well-known a figure in New England as Bill Russell, Bob Cousy and Larry Bird.”

I became a fan of his listening to Celtics games on the radio when I was in junior high school.

Most is remembered for his animated, hysterical call “Havlicek stole the ball!” during the final moments of Game 7 of the 1965 NBA Eastern Division Finals. The play sealed the victory for the Celtics. I was at that game.

High Above Courtside was the title of Most’s autobiography.


— Roger W. Smith

   February 2017