John M. Most (June 15, 1923 – January 3, 1993) was an American sports announcer, known primarily as the raspy radio voice of the Boston Celtics National Basketball Association basketball team 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 “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, 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.
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!" He also nicknamed Washington Bullets players Rick Mahorn and Jeff Ruland as "McFilthy" and "McNasty", interchanging the two at his whim.
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.
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.
- 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...
“ The shot off the glass is good!! Boston leads 91-89! ”
But Philadelphia had one more chance to put the game into overtime when... “ 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 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. (Game 5 was played in the Boston Garden; the conference playoffs followed a 2-2-1-1-1 format.) Isiah Thomas was inbounding the ball to Bill Laimbeer, who was in the backcourt. But...
“ 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!!! ”
Perhaps Johnny's most memorable on-air moment was when he dropped his trademark cigarette, lighting his pants on fire.