Heinsohn, his old roommate in the '60s, gave Havlicek carte blanche to do and say what he pleased but Havlicek said he'd already figured it out. "I had a responsibility to pass on the Celtic tradition, to instill it if I could. I didn't have to be told.
"The difference on the floor, compared with the old Celtics, is that we've shifted the emphasis from defense to offense. Russell was the greatest defensive center the game has ever known. Dave Cowens can't be a Russell, but he's a better shooter. K.C. was a great defensive player. Jo Jo's a better shooter. I'm counted on now more for scoring than I was. Sure, I want the ball in a tight situation. I feel I know more what I can do, and I'm not bothered if I miss. As long as you know it's the best you could have done, you should not second-guess a shot.
"The maturity we reached last year was remarkable considering how short a time we had had to rebuild. I could see it in the playoff series with Milwaukee, the very first game. We knew what we had to do, we did it. We played tough defense, made Oscar [Robertson] keep the ball as long as possible, get the time down to 18 seconds or so before he could get the ball to Jabbar. Let Jabbar have his 50 points. One guy won't beat us."
Havlicek steered the Jeep back into his driveway, turned off the key and settled back in the seat. "I've got two years on my contract," he said. "You never know how you're going to feel, so I'm not ruling out anything. This is a good business and I like it, but I'm going to play as long as I can play well. I'll know. I'm not as fast as I was. I'm not as reckless on defense, partly because I'm smarter, partly because I'm called on more offensively. Partly because I'm older."
That afternoon Havlicek drove his Jeep to play golf with his old Ohio State teammates Bobby Knight, now head coach at Indiana, and Gary Gearhart, who sells class rings in Columbus. Since Havlicek has not yet taken golf seriously, he suffered what would have been damage to his ego had he not been having so much fun. Only Knight really suffered. On the 12th hole he hit nine consecutive balls into the water. Havlicek and Gearhart tried to stifle their giggles.
"No wonder you can't do anything," said Havlicek, hefting a club from Knight's bag. "These look like the covers of Mason jars."
"My salary," said Knight acidly, "is not dependent on my purring this hole."
Their carts side by side on the next fairway, Knight looked over at the grinning Havlicek and shook his head.
"Greatest guy in the world. And he's always been the same, from the beginning. Except now he's rich."
"You'd be surprised how naive we were," said Gearhart. " John especially. Didn't smoke, barely drank, probably never cut a class."