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Well & Wise

Make Your Day: A Class Act Gets His Due

April 7, 2015

Tags: JoJo White, Basketball Hall of Fame, Celtics, mMake it Count

JoJo White has been elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

It should make your day, even if you don't know who he is.

JoJo is all class. To call him a class act doesn't do him justice, because it is no act. This may be a large part of the reason many people have never heard of him.

He played basketball for the Boston Celtics and won a couple of championships. He played clean and hard and led his team with his play. He was a point guard, sort of like a quarterback on the field, passing and scoring, but you never thought he was running the show, even when he was. He never got into trouble, never went to Sorry Land. When he won he acted like he had been there.

When he played in the 1970s, Celtics games were mostly on the radio. Gravelly voiced announcer Johnny Most's refrain was "JoJo stops … pops … bang!" to describe another two points from that sweet jump shot of his. After a while it seemed routine. "JoJo stops, pops, bang." became Matter of FACT. I grew up thinking the guy never missed a shot.

In a triple-overtime Finals game against the Phoenix Suns, which many consider the greatest basketball game ever, he played nearly every minute and at the end sat on the floor, exhausted. It is his coach Tommy Heinsohn's lasting memory of that game.

He played on a great team, with now-fellow Hall of Famers John Havlicek and the fiery Dave Cowens—and he led them. After his playing career he worked for the Celtics as a public ambassador. I have never heard of anyone who dislikes JoJo, or said an unkind word about him.

In recent years he had a tumor removed from his brain and had to relearn how to walk and talk. I got to meet him at a book signing for his biography, of sorts, called Make It Count, with author Mark Bodanza. I call it a biography of sorts because while it tells JoJo's story as an athlete during some historical moments in time, it also serves as a life lesson for kids and adults today. Make your actions count. Make your life count. He told some fun stories. Several parents brought their kids.

It took more than 30 years for JoJo White to get voted into the Hall of Fame. According to the Boston Globe, when Hall of Fame president and CEO John Doleva called him, he said he wanted to call JoJo first because the honor was so long overdue.

People like JoJo White deserve tributes. I have a feeling he'll act like he's been there.