Jo Jo White
White in 2008
Personal information
Born(1946-11-16)November 16, 1946
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
DiedJanuary 16, 2018(2018-01-16) (aged 71)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Listed height6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Listed weight197 lb (89 kg)
Career information
High schoolMcKinley (St. Louis, Missouri)
CollegeKansas (1965–1969)
NBA draft1969: 1st round, 9th overall pick
Selected by the Boston Celtics
Playing career1969–1981
PositionPoint guard
Number10, 12
Career history
19691979Boston Celtics
19791980Golden State Warriors
1980–1981Kansas City Kings
Career highlights and awards
Career statistics
Points14,399 (17.2 ppg)
Rebounds3,345 (4.0 rpg)
Assists4,095 (4.9 apg)
Stats Edit this at Wikidata at
Stats at
Basketball Hall of Fame as player
Men's basketball
Representing the  United States
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 1968 Mexico City Team competition
Pan American Games
Gold medal – first place 1967 Winnipeg Team competition

Joseph Henry White (November 16, 1946 – January 16, 2018)[1] was an American basketball player. As an amateur, he played at the University of Kansas, where he was named a second-team All-American twice. White was part of the U.S. men's basketball team during the 1968 Summer Olympics, winning a gold medal with the team.[2]

In the 1969 NBA draft, White was drafted 9th overall by the Boston Celtics, with whom he would play for ten seasons, winning the NBA Finals in 1974 and 1976 and being named Finals MVP the latter year. A seven-time NBA All-Star, White set a Celtics record with 488 consecutive games played.[3] White's No. 10 jersey was retired by the Celtics in 1982. In 2015, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Early life and amateur career

White was born in St. Louis, the son of a Baptist minister, George L. White Sr. and his wife, Elizabeth Rebecca Guynn.[4][5][6] As the youngest of seven children,[4] he had three elder sisters; Shirley, Adlean, and Irene, and three elder brothers, George, Dewitt and Ronald.[7] He started playing basketball at six and found sports to be a key platform for his community. [8] As a child, he followed the St. Louis Hawks,[8] and played on the basketball team at McKinley High School in St. Louis.


Due to his age, White was eligible to play college basketball a semester early at the University of Kansas, and team captain Riney Lochmann led a vote to determine that White would be welcomed by the players.[9]

White joined the team in mid-season, enjoyed immediate success, and entered the NCAA tournament. They played dominantly but encountered a physical Texas Western squad, now known as University of Texas at El Paso, in the Midwest regional final. During the first overtime, White took and made a shot (a 35-foot runner[10]) as the buzzer sounded, but he was ruled out of bounds by referee Rudy Marich.[11] The team lost this thriller in the second overtime to Texas Western, who went on to win the championship.[12] The game against Texas Western was featured in the 2006 film Glory Road, which was about the 1966 Texas Western team.[13]

White became a leader of the team, and made the consensus NCAA All-American Second Team in 1968 and 1969.[14] He made the All-Big Eight team the three subsequent years (1967–1969) Due to his early enrollment, White had only one semester of eligibility and Head Coach Ted Owens opted to have White play for the 18 games in the first semester rather than eight in the second.[15] He graduated with a degree in physical education.[15]


After college, White played on the 1968 U.S. Olympic basketball team in Mexico City.[16] The team was not expected to win the gold medal due to many future Hall of Fame players either declining to participate (e.g. Lew Alcindor, Elvin Hayes) or not being chosen (e.g. Pete Maravich, Calvin Murphy, Dan Issel).[17] The U.S. Olympic Basketball Committee allocated four roster spots to the NCAA, two to the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union), three to the Armed Forces, one to Junior College (Spencer Haywood), and two to the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics).[18] The American team, led by White and Haywood unexpectedly went undefeated (9–0), beating Yugoslavia 65–50 in the gold medal game.[19] White described his reaction:

Going into the Olympic Games we weren't the overwhelming favorites to win the gold medal. We weren't even considered the strongest team in the tournament. That billing went to the Russians, who were upset by Yugoslavia in the semifinals. But we were the more determined team, and I think that's what set us apart.[20]

This victory was the last in a streak of seven consecutive gold medals for the United States men's team.[16]

Professional career

White trying to score while being marked by Ernie DiGregorio

After the Olympics, White was drafted in 1969 in the first round (9th pick overall)[21] by the NBA's Boston Celtics, who at that time had just won their 11th Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy in 13 years.[22] There was some reluctance during the time of the basketball draft as White had a mandatory two-year military commitment with the US Marine Corps.[23] Then Boston general manager, Red Auerbach was able to shorten White's commitment and allow him to participate in the 1969–70 NBA season. He later stated that his short stint helped him prepare for his first Celtics training camp,

I was a Marine, so I had been through all the physical and mental challenges that comes with military training. Plus I was in excellent condition because of my military obligation, so I feel that this gave me an added advantage.[24]

However, before White even reported to training camp, the Celtics' center and player-coach Bill Russell announced his retirement and cut ties to the organization.[25] The Celtic's long-time shooting guard Sam Jones also ended his career, requiring White to replace those duties. With the sudden departure of Russell and Jones, White endured a rebuilding season during which the franchise experienced their first losing season (34–48)[26] since 1950,[27] the year before Red Auerbach was hired.[28] White made the All-NBA rookie team during the 1970 season.

The Celtics got back on track by drafting Dave Cowens, trading for Paul Silas, retaining veteran John Havlicek, and hiring coach Tommy Heinsohn. With White leading the attack from the point guard position, the team returned to its winning ways in 1971. He was an All-Star for seven straight years from 1971 through 1977, finishing in the top ten in the league in assists from 19731977. In 1972, he participated in the now-defunct NBA One-on-One 16-man tournament where he reached the championship (which occurred during halftime of Game 5 of the Finals) and faced 6'11" Detroit Piston Bob Lanier, who used his eight-inch height advantage to win the $15,000 prize.[29]

In 1974, White and the Celtics reached the 1974 NBA Finals. They faced the Milwaukee Bucks who were returning with their championship-winning core from the 1971 NBA Finals, including future Hall of Fame members Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson. With the Bucks' starting point guard, Lucius Allen, injured at the onset of the playoffs, White led a small, quick line-up featuring undersized, All-Star Cowens at center, to the first Celtics championship in the Post-Russell era.[30] The following season, White led the Celtics in minutes in a season where they finished 1st in NBA Atlantic Division with a 60–22 record but lost the Eastern Conference Finals.[31]

In 1976, White was part of a dominant Celtics squad which featured 5 veterans averaging double-digit scoring.[32] During the playoffs, White led the Celtics to the NBA championship and was a starring player in what is often referred to as "the greatest game ever played" — Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals[33][34][35][36] in NBA history. In the triple overtime win against the Phoenix Suns in game 5 of those finals, White was the game's high scorer with 33 points, had a game high 9 assists, leading the Celtics to a 128–126 win. Logging 60 minutes of play time, only the Suns' Garfield Heard (61) played more minutes. White was named the most valuable player of the 1976 NBA Finals.[37]

White went on to become one of professional basketball's first "iron men", playing in all 82 games for five consecutive seasons during the 1970s and setting a franchise record of 488 consecutive games played. White suffered an injury during the 1977–78 season.[38] With the end of the streak, White and the aging Celtics became a less effective squad and followed their championship with an exit from playoff semifinals in 1977 and then two losing seasons.[39][40]

Unable to retain his all-star form following the injury, White was traded by the Celtics to the Golden State Warriors in the middle of the 1978–79 NBA season. Boston Globe writer Bob Ryan described the tension leading to the White's trade from Boston.[41]

... being a Celtic, and, specifically, being a part of the Celtic mystique, meant a lot to Jo Jo White. In fact, being a part of the Celtics family and being able to come in and exchange quips with Red Auerbach and being able to identify oneself as a "Celtic" probably meant more to Jo Jo White than to any Celtic in the modern (i.e. post-Russell) era. Circumstances dictated that he leave, but leaving Boston was far from painless.

White retired as a player after 1981 with the Kansas City Kings. He returned to the Jayhawks as an assistant coach from 1982–83. In 1987 at the age of 41, White attempted a professional comeback as a player-assistant coach with the Topeka Sizzlers of the Continental Basketball Association.[42]


The Boston Celtics retired White's #10, barring its future use among the team's players.

On Friday, April 9, 1982, his number 10 was hung from the rafters at the Boston Garden.[43] He was in the top 100 in the NBA for career total field goals made, field goals attempted, assists, free throw percentage, minutes per game, and defensive rating.[17] He made the All-NBA Second Team in the 1974–75 and 1976–77 NBA seasons.[44] White was director of special projects and community relations with the Celtics at the time of his death.[16]

In 1991 White was welcomed into the Missouri Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.[45] His jersey was retired by the Kansas Jayhawks in 2003.[46] He was inducted in the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame with the class of 2009.[47] He also joined the 2013 class of the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame.[48]

White was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class in September 2015.[49] He was inducted alongside his former coach, Tom Heinsohn, and was formally introduced into the Hall by fellow Celtics John Havlicek and Dave Cowens.[50]

Previous to his induction in 2015, White's long exclusion from the Basketball Hall of Fame was a common topic when discussing players who have long been eligible but have not been inducted, with most writers believing his entry has been long delayed.[51][52][53][43][54][55] One writer in 2012 went as far as to declare a Jo Jo White Threshold as a marker for viability among future candidates.[56]

Personal life


White was born with six older brothers and sisters. He was married twice, secondly to Deborah White and previously to Estelle Bowser.[57] The retired Major League Baseball player Chris Chambliss was a cousin of White's.[58] In 1985, White moved to Rochester, NY where he owned and operated a couple of McDonald's restaurants until the early 1990s. In 2009, White and his wife opened a restaurant, JoJo's West, in Maynard, Massachusetts, which declared bankruptcy and closed in 2010 with criminal allegations and litigation against restaurant partner Chris Barnes.[59][60]

In media

White appeared in two movies with small roles: 1980's Inside Moves and 2007's The Game Plan, in which his son, actor Brian J. White, also starred.[61] His controversial 1966 NCAA Tournament Elite 8 game against Texas Western is portrayed in the 2006 film Glory Road.[13]

In 2010, White underwent a procedure to remove a tumor on the back of his brain.[62] To assist his recovery, his attorney elicited memories from White and authored a subsequent biography Make it Count that was released in 2012.[63] Then–Boston Celtics Coach Doc Rivers remarked:

When you saw him the first couple of times you were extremely worried. But we jokingly said that JoJo could make sick cool. He really is a cool dude and a great human being.[63]

In September 2012, White started the Jo Jo White Foundation to provide support for brain cancer research.[64] He also previously led the Jo Jo White Growth League for children in middle school[65] starting in 1994.[66]


White died in Boston two months past his 71st birthday, from complications of his dementia, specifically pneumonia, which was brought on when he had a benign brain tumor removed. The Boston Celtics honored his death with a black stripe stitched onto their jerseys for the remainder of the 2017–18 season.[16][67]

Career statistics


  GP Games played   GS  Games started  MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field goal percentage  3P%  3-point field goal percentage  FT%  Free throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game  APG  Assists per game  SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game  PPG  Points per game  Bold  Career high
 †  Won an NBA championship  *  Led the league

Regular season

1969–70 Boston 60 22.1 .452 .822 2.8 2.4 12.2
1970–71 Boston 75 37.2 .464 .799 5.0 4.8 21.3
1971–72 Boston 79 41.3 .431 .831 5.6 5.3 23.1
1972–73 Boston 82* 39.6 .431 .781 5.0 6.1 19.7
1973–74 Boston 82* 39.5 .449 .837 4.3 5.5 1.3 0.3 18.1
1974–75 Boston 82 39.3 .457 .834 3.8 5.6 1.6 0.2 18.3
1975–76 Boston 82 39.7 .449 .838 3.8 5.4 1.3 0.2 18.9
1976–77 Boston 82 40.6 .429 .869 4.7 6.0 1.4 0.3 19.6
1977–78 Boston 46 35.7 .419 .858 3.9 4.5 1.1 0.2 14.8
1978–79 Boston 47 31.0 .428 .888 2.7 4.6 1.1 0.1 12.5
1978–79 Golden State 29 30.4 .475 .870 2.5 4.6 0.9 0.1 12.3
1979–80 Golden State 78 26.3 .476 .167 .851 2.3 3.1 1.1 0.2 9.9
1980–81 Kansas City 13 18.2 .439 .611 1.6 2.8 0.8 0.1 6.4
Career[68] 837 35.8 .444 .167 .834 4.0 4.9 1.3 0.2 17.2
All-Star 7 0 17.7 .483 .545 3.9 3.0 0.6 0.1 9.1


1972 Boston 11 39.3 .495 .833 5.4 5.3 23.5
1973 Boston 13 44.8 .450 .907 4.2 6.4 24.5
1974 Boston 18 42.5 .426 .739 4.2 5.4 0.8 0.1 16.6
1975 Boston 11 42.0 .441 .818 4.5 5.7 1.0 0.4 20.6
1976 Boston 18 43.9 .445 .821 3.9 5.4 1.3 0.1 22.7
1977 Boston 9 43.9 .453 .848 4.3 5.8 1.6 0.0 23.3
Career[68] 80 42.9 .449 .828 4.4 5.7 1.1 0.1 21.5


1965–66 Kansas 9 .393 .538 7.6 11.3
1966–67 Kansas 27 .409 .819 5.6 14.8
1967–68 Kansas 30 .407 .722 3.6 15.3
1968–69 Kansas 18 .469 .734 4.7 18.1
Career[69] 84 .420 .733 4.9 15.3

See also


  1. ^ "Jo Jo White Stats". Archived from the original on May 12, 2013. Retrieved November 8, 2020.
  2. ^ Jo Jo White, Celtics great and NBA Hall of Famer, dies at 71
  3. ^ "JoJo White – Celtics Legend". Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Bodanza 2013, p. 7.
  5. ^ Haag, Matthew (January 16, 2018). "Jo Jo White, Deadeye Shooter for Boston Celtics, Dies at 71". The New York Times.
  6. ^ "Jo Jo White". Sepia. Sepia Pub. Corp. 27 (1–6): 48. 1978.
  7. ^ Bodanza 2013, p. 8.
  8. ^ a b "Celtic Nation: The unofficial home of the Boston Celtics". Celtic Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  9. ^ "Glory overrode". Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  10. ^ JoJo White (Kansas vs Texas Western 1966 NCAA Tournament).bmp - Jo Jo White | Fanbase
  11. ^ "Eddie Mullens Remembers". Archived from the original on February 27, 2015. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  12. ^ Botkin, Trey. "Reliving The Memories: 1966 Cinderella Texas Western". Bleacher Report. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  13. ^ a b "Film Review ***: ... Glory Road ... Worth Traveling". Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  14. ^ "Consensus All-America Teams (1960 to 1969)". College Basketball at Archived from the original on May 4, 2015. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  15. ^ a b "Jo Jo White". Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  16. ^ a b c d "Celtics legend Jo Jo White dies after cancer battle at 71". ESPN. January 16, 2018. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  17. ^ a b "Jo Jo White, Celtics legend and Basketball Hall of Famer, dead at 71". New York Daily News. January 16, 2018. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  18. ^ Grundman, Adolph H. (December 2004). The Golden Age of Amateur Basketball. ISBN 0803204728. Retrieved July 1, 2015 – via Google Books.
  19. ^ "Edición del Thursday 24 October 1968, Página 10 – Hemeroteca –". Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  20. ^ "Celtic Nation: THE unofficial home of the Boston Celtics". Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  21. ^ "1969 NBA Draft". Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  22. ^ "NBA Season Recaps". July 1, 2014. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  23. ^ "Celtic Nation: THE unofficial home of the Boston Celtics". Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  24. ^ "The Jojo White Interview". Celtic November 26, 2012. Archived from the original on December 2, 2012.
  25. ^ Taylor, John (2005). The Rivalry: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, and the Golden Age of Basketball. New York City: Random House. pp. 358–359. ISBN 1-4000-6114-8.
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  27. ^ "1949–50 Boston Celtics". Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  28. ^ Hilton, Lisette. "Auerbach's Celtics played as a team". Retrieved August 28, 2009.
  29. ^ Matthews, David (May 18, 2010). "Watch The 1972 NBA One-On-One Championship, In All Its Glorious Weirdness". Deadspin. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  30. ^ " Celtics Win First Title of Post-Russell Era". Archived from the original on April 6, 2012. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
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  32. ^ "1975–76 Boston Celtics". Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  33. ^ "Greatest Game Ever – The Official Site of the Phoenix Suns". Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  34. ^ "Greatest Game Ever Played | – The official website of the Boston Celtics". June 4, 1976. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
  35. ^ "35 Years Ago: The Celtics and the Suns Play The Greatest NBA Finals Game Ever Played". Boston Sports Then & Now. Archived from the original on January 13, 2016. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  36. ^ Black, Martin. "The Phoenix Suns: The Unluckiest Franchise In Professional Sports". Bleacher Report. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  37. ^ "NBA Finals MVP Award Winners". Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  38. ^ "141. Jo Jo White". Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  39. ^ "1977-78 NBA Season Summary". Retrieved September 30, 2019.
  40. ^ "1978-79 NBA Season Summary". Archived from the original on October 14, 2013. Retrieved September 30, 2019.
  41. ^ Barrasso, Justin (December 30, 2012). "Bird's Rookie Year — Game 38 vs. the Warriors". Boston Sports Media Watch. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  42. ^ "Jo Jo White Makes a Return at 41 With a Helping Hand as His Goal". The New York Times. November 18, 1987.
  43. ^ a b Clark, Jeff (April 16, 2012). "Wait, Jo Jo White Isn't In The Hall of Fame?". CelticsBlog. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  44. ^ "Jayhawks legend, Hall of Famer JoJo White dies at 71, per report". WIBW. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  45. ^ "Kansas Sports Hall of Fame – White, Jo Jo". Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  46. ^ "Jayhawks in the Rafters". Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  47. ^ "MCCS – Recreation and Fitness- Sports". Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  48. ^ O'Neill, Dan (June 9, 2013). "Stellar class headed to St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  49. ^ Chiari, Mike. "Basketball". Bleacher Report. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  50. ^ Forsberg, Chris (September 11, 2015). "Basketball". ESPN. Retrieved November 4, 2016.
  51. ^ "Hall of Fame still neglecting a few greats". April 3, 2006. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  52. ^ Spencer, Adam. "Top 15 basketball champions not in the Hall of Fame". Archived from the original on February 26, 2011.
  53. ^ "Hall of Fame Travesty – Jo Jo White". September 2, 2012. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  54. ^ "8 NBA Players That Should Be Enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame". The Cheat Sheet. March 19, 2014. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  55. ^ "The Lowdown Hall of Fame Snubs: Jo Jo White". Hardwood Paroxysm. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  56. ^ "Current Players Below The JoJo White Threshold – RealGM Articles". Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  57. ^ Bodanza, Mark C. (June 28, 2013). Make It Count. ISBN 9781938908453. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  58. ^ Flanagan, Jeffrey (September 29, 1994). "List grows to four Chambliss is candidate for the Royals' managerial job". The Kansas City Star. p. D1. Retrieved August 25, 2013. (subscription required)
  59. ^ "Celtics great opens restaurant with career criminal". November 16, 2010. Archived from the original on July 1, 2015. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  60. ^ "JoJo blames tangled Web for eatery woes". May 4, 2010. p. 18. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  61. ^ "Jo Jo White". IMDb. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  62. ^ "Boston Celtics great JoJo White, recovering from brain surgery, says he's doing 'absolutely fantastic'". November 2, 2013. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  63. ^ a b Spears, Marc J. (October 16, 2013). "Celtics great JoJo White makes determined recovery from brain surgery". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  64. ^ "ABOUT US". JoJo White Foundation. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  65. ^ Leung, Shirley (February 2, 1997). "Jo Jo White tosses the ball to youth Celtics great brings character-building basketball league to 2 middle schools". Archived from the original on August 8, 2014. Retrieved July 1, 2015 – via
  66. ^ "Nonprofit Profile for Association of JoJo White Growth Leagues Inc". GuideStar. Retrieved October 21, 2015.
  67. ^ "Joseph Henry White". The Salem Post and The Democrat-Bulletin. April 27, 1944. p. 5. Retrieved November 8, 2020.
  68. ^ a b "Jo Jo White". Archived from the original on May 12, 2013. Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  69. ^ "Jo Jo White". College Basketball @ Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved July 1, 2015.