When Havlicek Stole the Damn Ball

The mid-60s were a brutal time for Philadelphia sports fans. The ’64 Phillies pulled off one of the greatest chokes in sports history, the Eagles were 16-37-1 between 1962 and 1965, and the Sixers were the victim of the most famous radio call in basketball history.

To set the stage, the Sixers were trying to pull off a huge upset in the 1965 Eastern Conference Finals. The Sixers had gone a mere 40-40 that year, while the Celtics had gone 62-20. But that gritty Sixers team, led by Wilt Chamberlain and Hal Greer, had taken the Celtics to a 7th game on April 15th, 1965, and with 5 seconds left were only down one point and were inbounding the ball under their own basket. Greer attempted to make a pass to Chet Walker, hoping that the high scoring forward would attack the basket. He never got the chance. John Havlicek jumped in front of the pass and tipped it to teammate Sam Jones. The Celtics went to the Finals for the 8th straight year, and the Sixers went home. The pain continued the next two years, as the Sixers fell to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals in 5 games both years. Finally, in 1967, the Sixers got past the Celtics and went on to win the NBA title. Here is the NBA Encyclopedia entry about the play.

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