With the Hall of Fame inductions in the news this week, it's time to mention what might be the biggest snub in all of history. The Hall finally righted the wrong that had been done to Dennis Johnson, although too late for him to enjoy it. Now, it's time to call attention to an even bigger travesty. Jo Jo White is not in the Hall of Fame. The case for White to be inducted is very strong but yet, every year he is passed over.
Jo Jo White was a winner at every level of his career. He played on the 1968 USA Olympic basketball team in Mexico. The team went undefeated (9-0) and beat Yugoslavia 65-50 in the title game. After the Olympics, Jo Jo was drafted by the Celtics 9th overall in the 1969 draft.
Before White's career with the Celtics began, Bill Russell announced his retirement. White, along with the Celtics, would go through a rebuilding season after the retirement of their franchise center. The next year they would draft Dave Cowens to fill the hole at the center position and they also traded for Paul Silas. Along with these two and veteran John Havlicek, White would be the cornerstone of two Celtic championship teams in 1974 and 1976, and was named the Finals MVP in 1976.
White was one of the NBA's first iron men, playing in all 82 games for five consecutive seasons. He was a seven time All Star and was named to the All NBA second team twice. Over his career, he scored 14,399 points, averaging 17.2 points per game. He also averaged 4.9 assists and 4.0 rebounds. That may not seem like a lot of assists for a point guard, but in the Celtics system, they had many good passers and so it came down to roles. Jo Jo was known for his lock down defense as well.
Other players with comparable stats and records have already been enshrined. Compare White with Joe Dumars who was enshrined in 2006. Both players won a Finals MVP. In addition, White's career points per game (17.2), assists (4.9) and rebounds (4.0) in the regular season and the playoffs (21.5, 5.7, 4.5) exceed Dumars' totals across the board.
The Celtics could count on White to show up to play every game and play every minute if needed. In perhaps the best game ever played in the NBA, the triple overtime Game 5 of the 1976 Finals, White played 60 minutes. Between 1971 and 1977, White appeared in 564 of 574 possible contests and averaged 39.6 minutes a night while doing so. He also made the all-star team every one of these seasons.
Jo Jo White’s career averages of 17.2 points, 4.9 assists and 4.0 rebounds have only been achieved by 12 retired players. Of these only White and Richie Guerin are not in the Hall of Fame. Guerin is another player that has been slighted by the Hall and is deserving of the honor as well. White's regular season stats don't tell the whole story, however. He upped his game in the postseason and his play was even better in the playoffs with 21.5 points, 5.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds. Players who compare with Jo Jo with these numbers include Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West and Larry Bird.
It's an absolute travesty that Jo Jo is not in the Hall of Fame. It's time for Celtics fans to start a campaign and raise and outcry to right this wrong that has gone on far too long.