KU basketball, Boston Celtics great Jo Jo White dies at 71

Former Kansas basketball star Jo Jo White, seen here hugging his former KU coach Ted Owens in 2003, died Tuesday at 71. He played for Kansas from 1966-69. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Jo Jo White, a Kansas basketball great, two-time NBA champion and Olympic gold medalist, died Tuesday. He was 71.

 

White, who played for the Jayhawks from 1966-69, had a professional career from 1969-81 primarily with the Boston Celtics and won an Olympic gold medal at the 1968 games in Mexico City, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015. He had been battling cancer, according to a report from the Boston Herald.

“He obviously was a KU legend and, when you talk about KU greats and you’re trying to fill that five of the best who ever played here from a talent standpoint, most of the old-timers put Jo Jo in that group,” KU coach Bill Self said. “He was such a classy man, had a beautiful family and just represented himself so well and KU.”

With KU, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound White scored 1,276 points and later saw his No. 15 jersey retired, where it hangs in the south rafters at Allen Fieldhouse, where he scored 30 points in his home finale on Feb. 1, 1969.

“He made an incredible contribution to Kansas basketball,” said Ted Owens, who coached at KU. “People say, ‘What was Jo Jo’s greatest strength?’ And I said his greatest strength is he had no weaknesses. He was just the absolute complete player, so unselfish. His teammates loved playing with him because he would play great on defense and distribute the ball and would think about his teammates first and get his own shot later.”

The MVP of the 1976 NBA Finals, White also has his No. 10 jersey retired by the Celtics.

“He was so proud to show me that No. 10 hanging down from the rafters,” Owens said of a time White took his former coach to a Celtics game. “Even years later, people came from all over the stands to talk to him and get his autograph and so forth. He was a huge, huge hero in Boston.”

Born Joseph Henry White in St. Louis, the three-time All-Big Eight guard led the Jayhawks to two NCAA Tournament appearances, including a legendary battle with eventual champion Texas Western (now Texas-El Paso) in the 1966 Midwest Regional championship game. An official waved off what would’ve been a game-winning shot from White at the end of the first overtime, ruling White’s foot was out of bounds before he shot. KU lost the game in double overtime, 81-80.

As a pro, White averaged 17.2 points, four rebounds and 4.9 assists across 12 seasons. He ended his career as a member of the Kansas City Kings in 1982.

“He was a champion and a gentleman; supremely talented and brilliant on the court, and endlessly gracious off of it,” the Celtics said in a news release.

White visited Topeka in August 2004 and was honored with a Kansas Community Service Award by the Topeka Active 20-30 Club. He served as a player-assistant coach for the Topeka Sizzlers of the now-defunct Continental Basketball Association during a brief comeback attempt in 1987.

TopTankTickets
 

More

Olathe West takes control in the second half to drop Topeka West, 68-36

OLATHE — Topeka West led at the end of the first quarter Wednesday night and the Chargers were within four points at... Read more