Jo Jo White Rumors
Also enshrined Friday were former NBA stars Spencer Haywood, Jo Jo White and Dikembe Mutombo, women’s basketball great Lisa Leslie and referee Dick Bavetta. Tom Heinsohn was inducted as a coach after already being enshrined as a player, joined by former coaches George Raveling and Australia’s Lindsay Gaze, plus ABA star Louis Dampier and early African-American player John Isaacs.
“I am so honored to be here. I only wish my mother and father were here,” said White, whose recovery from surgery forced him to relearn basic activities such as walking and talking. He spoke deliberately Thursday, often pausing to both find the right words and soak up the moment. “I absolutely adored playing this game,” White added. “I’m so proud to be right here.”
Although White’s accomplishments in the game have always been greatly appreciated in Boston, it has taken years for others to recognize his career as more than just above average. “I’m just excited and I loved playing sports,” White said. “To touch the athletes you’ve played with, coaches that you had to deal with, and you find you’re getting very, very close to the team that you’re working with. What I’ve went through as a player, I’m just excited. “I’m still rejoicing from where I’ve gone to where I am to what I had to go through to get where I am. I’ve gone through it.”
Celtics legend Jo Jo White and his wife Debbie received a phone call from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on April 1, and for a fleeting moment, they thought it might be a cruel April Fools’ Day joke. White, whose NBA career ended in 1981, had been waiting patiently since then, wondering if people might forget him before he could be remembered forever. But when the Whites realized Hall of Fame president and CEO John Doleva was on the line, they knew this was no prank. “I wanted you to be the first one that I called,” Debbie recalled Doleva saying, “because it is long overdue.”