Johnny Most

Johnny Most

:"For the American poet John Most see here."

John M. Most (June 15, 1923January 3, 1993) was an American sports announcer, known primarily as the raspy radio voice of the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association from 1953 to 1990.

He is most remembered for his excited call of "“Havlicek stole the ball!”" during the final moments of Game 7 of the 1965 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. The play sealed the victory for the Boston Celtics. The complete call for that play was cquote|"Greer is putting the ball in play. He gets it out deep and Havlicek steals it!! Over to Sam Jones...Havlicek stole the ball!! It's all over… It's all over!!"

He was a legend to Boston Celtics fans during the franchise's golden era from the 1950s through the 1980s. As identifiable a figure in New England as Bill Russell, Bob Cousy and Larry Bird, Celtics fans learned at an early age when watching the team play on television to turn the sound down on their television and pick up Most's radio broadcast on their local Celtics affiliate.


Early life and career

Born to Jewish parents in New York City, New York, he was named after his paternal grandfather, the German-American Anarchist thinker Johann Most. [ [ Johann Most Page, Bavarian-American anarchist; from the Daily Bleed's Anarchist Encyclopedia ] ] Johnny Most was one of the many successful graduates of DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx. Most began his career in the 1940s as a protégé of Marty Glickman. He was hired in 1953 by Boston Celtics owner Walter Brown and coach Red Auerbach to replace Curt Gowdy as the team's radio play-by-play man on the Celtics Radio Network.


As an aerial gunner on a B-24 he flew 28 combat missions with the 15th Air Force in World War II, earning seven medals.

Shortly after VE Day, as his unit broke camp in central Italy, Johnny wandered up a nearby hillside to a graveyard filled with American flags, his final visit to fallen comrades before returning home to the Bronx. A prolific poet, he penned these lines:

“I stood among the graves today and swept the scene with sight.

“And the corps of men who lay beneath looked up to say goodnight.

“The thunder still, the battle done, the fray has passed them by;

“and as they rest forever more, they must be asking, ‘Why?’ ”

Commentating style

Most always referred to his perch or radio booth at the Boston Garden (the Celtics' arena) as "high above court-side" at the opening of his broadcasts.

Unlike his long-time contemporary, Chick Hearn, who criticized his Los Angeles Lakers when he felt warranted, Most rarely criticized the Celtics during gameplay. But he was not shy about criticizing other teams' players. For example, during the 1985 season, he nicknamed Magic Johnson "Crybaby Johnson" after Johnson successfully challenged a referee's call. He called Magic this negative nickname throughout the remainder of the 1980s, announcing lines like "Cry with the no-look pass!" and "Crybaby with the rebound!" [,1,3512579.story] He also nicknamed Washington Bullets players Rick Mahorn and Jeff Ruland as "McFilthy" and "McNasty", interchanging the two at his whim and was very critical of the Detroit Pistons for their physical play during the late 1980s.

Retirement, death and honors

On October 10, 1990, Johnny Most announced his retirement due to health concerns. On December 3 of that year, Most was honored with the permanent installation of his microphone at Boston Garden, silver-plated and encased in a Celtic-green frame. The microphone was attached to the façade of the vantage point that Most always described as "high above courtside." On January 3, 1993, Most died at the age of 69 of a heart attack in Hyannis, Massachusetts. He is buried in the Baker Street Jewish Cemeteries, West Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Shortly after his death, Johnny Most was awarded the prestigious Curt Gowdy Media Award by the Trustees of the Basketball Hall of Fame for his contribution to basketball. On October 4, 2002 (almost ten years after his death), Most was inducted into the media category of the New England Basketball Hall of Fame at the University of Rhode Island.

Other well-known calls

Most is known for three other calls. As in the "Havlicek steals the ball!" call, these three were also in games played at the Boston Garden:

*Game 7 of the 1981 NBA Eastern Conference Finals, saw the Celtics tied with the Philadelphia 76ers late in the 4th quarter, Darryl Dawkins of the 76ers after being double teamed missed the shot, the Celics' Larry Bird drove the length of the court and...

cquote|"The shot off the glass is good!! Boston leads 91-89!"

But Philadelphia down 91-90 had one more chance to win the game when...

cquote|"Bobby Jones is gonna put the ball into play and the pass hits the top of the backboard and it's over! They won 3 in a row, they came from 3-1 down and they have won the series!!! It's all over!!!"

*Game 2 of the 1984 NBA Finals, had the Celtics trail the Los Angeles Lakers 113-111 with 15 seconds remaining.

cquote|"And it goes quickly in now to Magic, back over to Worthy and it's picked off! Goes to Henderson and he lays it up and in!! It's all tied up! A great play by Henderson!!"

The Celtics forced overtime following the miscommunication between Johnson and Worthy, and eventually, won the game to tie the series at one. The Celtics won the title in 7. Gerald Henderson then commented:

cquote|"For a minute I could hear Johnny Most going, "Henderson steals the ball!""

His comments recall the John Havlicek steal in 1965, whom Most is most associated with.

*Game 5 of the 1987 playoff series against the Detroit Pistons, the series tied at 2-2

Detroit had a one-point lead late in the game and needed to inbound the ball to secure the victory and take a 3-2 Series lead with Game 6 on their court. (Then, as now, the conference finals followed a 2-2-1-1-1 format.) Isiah Thomas was inbounding the ball to Bill Laimbeer, who was in the backcourt. But...

cquote|"And......Now there's a steal by Bird! Underneath to DJ who lays it in!!...Right at one second left!! What a play by Bird! Bird stole the inbounding pass, laid it up to DJ, and DJ laid it up and in, and Boston has a one-point lead with one second left! OH, MY, THIS PLACE IS GOING CRAZY!!!"


External links

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