Jo Jo White

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Jo Jo White
No. 10, 12
Point guard
Personal information
Born (1946-11-16) November 16, 1946 (age 67)
St. Louis, Missouri
Nationality American
Listed height 6 ft 3 in (191 cm)
Listed weight 190 lb (86 kg)
Career information
High school McKinley (St. Louis, Missouri)
College Kansas (1965–1969)
NBA draft 1969 / Round: 1 / Pick: 9th overall
Selected by the Boston Celtics
Pro playing career 1969–1981
Career history
19691979 Boston Celtics
1979–1980 Golden State Warriors
1980–1981 Kansas City Kings
Career highlights and awards
Career statistics
Points 14,399 (17.2 ppg)
Assists 4,095 (4.9 apg)
Rebounds 3,345 (4.0 rpg)
Stats at

Joseph Henry "Jo Jo" White (born November 16, 1946) is an American former professional basketball player. As an amateur, he played for the University of Kansas Men's Basketball team and represented the U.S. Men's Basketball team during the 1968 Summer Olympics. As a professional, he is best known for his ten-year stint with the Boston Celtics of the NBA.

Early life and amateur career

White was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of a minister.1 He played college basketball at the University of Kansas, entering the 1966 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament and losing a double overtime thriller to Texas Western, currently known as the University of Texas at El Paso, in the Midwest regional final (Texas Western went on to win the championship). White took and made the final shot in overtime, but was ruled out of bounds. He made the All-BIg Eight team the three subsequent years and graduated with a degree in physical education.2

After college, White played on the 1968 USA Olympic basketball team in Mexico City, Mexico. Although many future Basketball Hall of Fame players either declined to participate (e.g. Lew Alcindor, Elvin Hayes) or were not chosen (e.g. Pete Maravich, Calvin Murphy), the U.S. Men's team, led by White and Spencer Haywood went undefeated (9-0), beating Yugoslavia 65-50 in the title game. This victory would prove to be the last in a streak of seven consecutive gold medals for the US Men's team.

Professional career

After the Olympics, White was drafted in 1969 in the first round (9th pick overall) by the NBA's Boston Celtics, who at that time had just won their 11th championship in 13 years. There was some reluctance during the time of the draft as White had a mandatory two-year military commitment. Then Boston general manager, Red Auerbach, was able to shorten White's commitment and allow him to participate in the 1969–70 NBA season. White was also drafted by the Dallas Cowboys and the Cincinnati Reds.2

However, before White even reported to training camp, the Celtics' center and player-coach Bill Russell announced his retirement. Also, the team's long-time Shooting Guard Sam Jones would end his career, requiring White to replace those duties. White would endure a rebuilding season while the Celtics got back on track, drafting Dave Cowens and trading for Paul Silas. Along with these two and veteran John Havlicek, White would be the cornerstone of two Celtic championship teams in the 1970s (1973–74 and 1975–76).

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. White's skills included great defense, speed, an underrated jump shot, and team leadership.

Although White made the All-NBA rookie team, the 1970 Celtics finished with the franchise's first losing record since 1951. 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 1974 and 1976, White helped lead the Celtics to the NBA championship and was named the most valuable player of the 1976 NBA Finals.

Perhaps the most exciting game White ever played was 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. Some claim it to be the greatest game ever played.3

He was traded by the Celtics to the Golden State Warriors in 1979, and retired in 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.4


On Friday, April 9, 1982, his number 10 was hung from the rafters at the Boston Garden. He is in currently 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. He made the All-NBA Second Team in the 1974–75 and 1976–77 NBA seasons. White continues to be involved in basketball and is currently director of special projects and community relations with the Celtics, while continuing to attend most home games.

His exclusion from the Basketball Hall of Fame is a common topic when discussing players who have long been eligible but have not been inducted. According to Basketball Reference, White has the highest calculated probability of induction among eligible candidates,5 yet ranks 156th in Win Shares among 2014 eligible candidates.6 He and Cedric Maxwell are the only NBA Finals MVP's, out of that the 19 that are eligible, to not be inducted. lists White as an "NBA Hall of Famer" in his player profile.

In 1997, he was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.7 He is was inducted in the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame with the class of 2009.8 He also joined the 2013 class of the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame.9


White was born with six older brothers and sisters.

White has married twice, currently to Deborah White and previously to Estelle Bowser.

Chris Chambliss is a cousin of White's.10

Additionally, he appeared in two movies with diminutive roles: 1980's Inside Moves and 2007's The Game Plan, in which his son, actor Brian J. White, also starred.

In 2010, White underwent a procedure to remove a tumor on the back of his brain, which he has since mostly recovered. During recovery, his attorney authored a biography "Make it Count" that was released in 2012.11


  1. ^ Sepia (Sepia Pub. Corp.) 27 (1-6): 48. 1978. 
  2. ^ a b [1]
  3. ^ "Greatest Game Ever Played | - The official website of the Boston Celtics". 1976-06-04. Retrieved 2012-08-08. 
  4. ^ "Jo Jo White Makes a Return at 41 With a Helping Hand as His Goal". The New York Times. 1987-11-18. 
  5. ^ [2]
  6. ^ [3]
  7. ^ [4]
  8. ^ [5]
  9. ^ [6]
  10. ^ Flanagan, Jeffrey (1994-09-29). "List grows to four Chambliss is candidate for the Royals' managerial job". The Kansas City Star. p. D1. Retrieved August 2013.  (subscription required)
  11. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)

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