So a 37-year old NBA legend announces his intention to retire at the end of the season and it sets off a big farewell tour. All the NBA cities who will be seeing him play for the last time make a big production of it. You might think I am speaking of Kobe Bryant but actually I was referring to Celtics legend John Havlicek's 1977-78 season.
The similarities between the two players is pretty pronounced. Start with the size - Bryant 6'6" and 212 pounds vs Havlicek's 6'5" and 203 pounds. Kobe went into the NBA right from high school so has the benefit of 4 more NBA seasons. Havlicek meanwhile went to college and is also a legend at Ohio State. In Havlicek's final season he averaged 16.1 points plus 4 assists and 4 rebounds per game. Kobe is averaging 15.5 points along with 3.4 assists and 4.1 rebounds.
If you take away the points from Kobe's first 4 seasons and factor in that the 3-pointer wasn't around in Havlicek's day - the Black Mamba would still be the better scorer but only by the slightest of margins (26,930 points and counting to 26,395). The rebounds favor Havlicek (8,007 to 6,853 and counting) while Kobe has the slight advantage in assists averaging 5.3 career per game to Hondo's 4.8 (and Kobe was the guy who supposedly didn't pass the ball). These two guys are statistically almost mirror images.
Havlicek was a 13-time NBA All-Star while Kobe went to 17-All-Star games (and counting). It is a big deal that Kobe also won 5 NBA Championships with the Lakers but let's not forget that Havlicek owns 8 Championship rings from his career with the Celtics.
The whole point of this isn't to take anything away from Kobe but just that it saddens me that Havlicek seems completely forgotten and the two were almost identical. Even as a Celtics fan I'll admit that Kobe was the better player but the difference wasn't as great as some would have you believe.