I WANT to open our weekly Sunday chat with a different perspective on the passing of John Havlicek.

I hated John Havlicek.

I hated the Celtics.

I was — and embarrassed to say still am — a Knicks fan.

Growing up in New York and watching the Celtics win title after title, you HAD to hate (sports hate, of course) the team on that ugly floor at Boston Gahden. It was in your blood. You would watch as the Celtics went on one of their fast-break runs fueled by Bill Russell as the local crowd went nuts.

Havlicek averaged 20.1 points per game in his regular season career against the Knicks, actually a shade lower than his average against the rest of the league. But he was always there — except for the one time he wasn’t.

In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals in 1973, Havlicek suffered a shoulder injury in a collision with Dave DeBusschere. He missed Game 4, returned but wasn’t himself. The Knicks won in seven games and then defeated the Lakers, the team Boston was always beating, for our second title in four years. The Celtics had won 68 games during the regular season.

Havlicek was one of those athletes who looked indestructible. He made all kinds of shots from all kinds of angles. He went to the NBA Finals eight times and won all eight. He was so special on the court and it was easy to learn he was just as special off. He lost a three-year battle with Parkinson’s the other day and the world was saddened. It should have been.

“I think John is a superstar for the ages,” the great Bob Cousy, who played only one season with Havlicek, told Channel 5 in Boston. Russell, tweeting about the death of another friend and teammate, wrote: “It is getting difficult each time I hear about another contemporary that passes! What is harder is when we lose guys like John Havlicek, he was not just a teammate & a great guy, but he was family. That is how our Celtics teams were. RIP Hondo.”


Gregg Popovich only has one picture on his office wall in San Antonio –- Hondo.

Column pal Mike Dynon summed it up on Twitter, saying:

“Random John Havlicek facts: -Also drafted as wide receiver by Cleveland Browns; -Always closed pregame warmups with 2 layups; -Played all 48 minutes of all 7 games, 1969 Finals; -Celtics record 54 points in playoff game vs. Hawks; -Rec’d 7+ minutes standing O prior to final game.”

And reader Paul Turner tells us: “I was at a youth basketball camp in Malden (Mass.) back in ‘63 or ‘64, which John was at. He told us a funny story. Before he pursued an NBA career he tried out for the Cleveland Browns as an end & he had to block Big Daddy Lipscomb in a scrimmage in preseason. He ended up in pain at the bottom of a pile of players with his helmet twisted around so he could not see out! He decided then to try the NBA. True story.”

{h3 style=”text-align: left;”}Looking around{/h3}

Now, for our regular Sunday stuff:

…OK, we all said Bruins GM Don Sweeney was asleep at the switch for what he did at the NHL trade deadline, right? Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson? Yawn. How’s that looking now?

…Celtics-Bucks finally starts Sunday, with Boston, the team that was favored to win the East this season, facing the team that roared to the league’s best record. It caps a great weekend at TD Garden, with the Bruins’ Game 2 against Columbus Saturday night.

Paul Pierce says he welcomes the criticism he’s facing over saying he was better than Dwyane Wade. “You know I don’t care about stuff,” Pierce says. “I don’t know how this happened. You know me, you know that stuff don’t bother me. As a player I was the same way, that’s what made me who I am. People can say what they want to say but I’ve always been a villain in this league. I’ve always been booed on the road. It’s nothing new. It doesn’t bother me one bit.”

…A tip of the cap to Foley’s in NYC for creating the new “Nick Cafardo Burger” in honor of the recently passed Globe writer – with the words. “He is deeply missed. Proceeds of his burger will be donated to an ALS charity in his name.” The burger, Foley’s says, “is stuffed with fresh mozzarella and Italian sausage, topped with provolone and served with Parmesan dusted fries.”

…Yes, Vegas should have been able to give up less than four goals during a major penalty kill in Game 7 against San Jose. But that said, the league apologized for the excessive call and also removed the two refs – including veteran Dan O’Halloran, who had worked more than 10 straight second rounds – from the next round. The refs were also replaced after blowing the Nasem Kadri call after the hit on the Bruins’ Jake DeBrusk. Said Vegas’ Jonathan Marchessault: “It’s the same thing as that football game, the Saints, it changes the whole outcome. The refs just got involved in the game and now our summer starts. Now five (bleep) months until game one.”

…Friday night was Vlad Guerrero Jr. Night in Toronto, with the kid, who once called Manchester home, making it special. First, he arrived at Rogers Centre wearing his dad’s Expos jersey. He made a couple of slick fielding plays (he’s not supposed to be a slick fielder), hit two long flies and was robbed of a homer and then led off the winning ninth with an opposite-field double. “I was excited. … It was just the way I dreamt it. I tried to make contact in my first at-bat and I did,” he said through an interpreter.

…You had to feel sorry for Ray Bourque for catching grief crossing a Stop & Shop picket line. The longtime union guy was reportedly picking up his colonoscopy prep. He later apologized for crossing.

…The Robert Kraft saga continues, with new word the Pats owner flaunted a Super Bowl ring at the cops when they pulled him over.

…Chew on this: Giovanni Urshela batted cleanup for the Yankees Friday night in San Francisco.

…Anyone who has spent time interviewing Patriots players over the years have gotten used to the phrase, “Just trying to get better every day.” Well, first-rounder N’Keal Harry said, “I’m going to come in with a workhorse mindset and get better every day.”

…Veteran Enes Kanter after advancing to the NBA’s second round with Portland: “First off, I would definitely like to thank the Knicks for waiving me.”

…From Tucker Boynton of 98.5 The Sports Hub after the Bruins’ opening win over the Jackets: “Tim Thomas thru the first 8 games of the 2011 playoffs: .924 sv%, 2.34 GAA, 5-3 W-L; Tuukka Rask thru the first 8 games of the 2019 playoffs: .927 sv%, 2.25 GAA, 5-3 W-L.”

Devin Bush Sr. was brought to tears on ABC after Devin Jr. was drafted by the Steelers. “It’s my allergies,” he said.

Blake Swihart penned an Instagram letter to Red Sox fans prior to his debut in Arizona, starting with the words, “Red Sox Nation, as today is the first day I will wear a jersey that doesn’t have Boston/Red Sox across my chest, I wanted to reach out and thank all of you personally. While today I turn the page on a new chapter, I leave the Red Sox organization with so many amazing friends, teammates, and of course you, the fans. You embraced me as part of ‘The Nation’ as a 19 year-old boy from New Mexico and helped me grow into a man, and last year, into a champion!”

…Kudos go out to Greg Oden, whose NBA career was ruined by injuries before he slipped into alcoholism, as he completes his degree in athletic administration at Ohio State next month – doing it for his daughter. “It’s simple as this,” Oden, 31, told the Indy Star. “How can I tell her go to school and get an education if I did not get one?” he said. “I want to be that example.”

…After having a baseball thrown behind his head against the Mets, Philly’s Rhys Hoskins was clocked at 34.23 seconds trotting around the bases after a home run in New York.

…New Vanderbilt hoops coach Jerry Stackhouse has already used his NBA contacts, making Scotty Pippen Jr. (Dad spells the first name Scottie) his first recruit.

…From our pal Bill Chuck: “Great quote from Angels’ Cody Allen on his demotion from the closer role. “This game is humbling,” the veteran right-hander said. “It’s either hard or really hard.”

…The Pistons have established a new NBA record with 14 straight playoff losses.

…The Mets’ Zack Wheeler is the first member of baseball’s 100/100 Club after hitting an exit velocity 101.4 home run and throwing a pitch 100 (100.6) against the Phillies the other night.

…The Virginia basketball team isn’t going to the White House. Coach Tony Bennett said it would be tough to get the gang back together but we can only wonder why they would want to miss that Big Mac meal.

Drew Pomeranz and Clay Buchholz squared off in Toronto this week. Pomeranz tossed six innings of two-hit ball and Pablo Sandoval hit a home run off Buchholz in the 4-0 Giants win.

…The Clippers, whose season ended Friday night but whose future appears bright, reportedly asked the Celtics about Kyrie Irving at the deadline and were told no way.

…More Bill Chuck: “Redsox trail the Tigers 6-3 in the 8th inning (Tuesday). This is 14th time in 23 games the Sox have permitted at least six runs this season. The Sox allowed 6+ runs 44 times in 162 regular season games in 2018.”

…Former Bruin Riley Nash laid out David Krejci in Game 1, leading Brad Marchand to say, “I don’t think he had a hit in two years with us.”

…From soxnotes on Twitter: “Michael Chavis is the 6th Red Sox player in the last 50 seasons (1970-2019) to homer in as many as 2 of his first 6 major league games. The others are Rafael Devers (2017), Will Middlebrooks (2012), Bill Selby (1996), Mo Vaughn (1991), and Sam Horn (1987).”

…The Houston Rockets may well have insulted the LA Clippers by flying into the Bay Area before the Clips were even eliminated by the Warriors. Turned out they made the right move and that series should be fun.

Jake Arrieta called new teammate Bryce Harper out after Harper was ejected from a game in the fourth inning in New York this week. After saying the team was flat as a whole, Arrieta said, “We need him in right field.”

Daniel Jones as the sixth pick in the NFL draft? Some had him slipping to the Patriots well down into the next rounds. Only the Giants.

Kevin Durant scored 50 points the other night, making him the sixth NBA player with back-to-back 45-point playoff games. The others? Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan (three times), Jerry West, Bernard King and Russell Westbrook.”

…It’s crazy to see so many baseball players getting hurt. This is the one non-contact sport among the big four and so many of these guys can’t stay on the field. One theory is they are actually too finely tuned. Old pal Bill Madden wrote in the NY Daily News that weightlifting and supplements are the causes. Part of the headline on the piece read, “Did Babe Ruth ever hurt his oblique?”

…Drafted Pats cornerback Joejuan Williams on being reunited with former Vandy teammate Adam Butler: “That was my dog, man. He was a senior when I was a freshman, but he took me under his wing ... I’m excited to play with him again.”

…Friday night in Brooklyn, a pair of goalies who used to be journeymen types –- Robin Lehner and Petr Mrazek –- tossed fancy regulation shutouts at each other before the Hurricanes took a lead in the series with an OT goal by Jordan Staal.

…Finally, we give you Dabo Sweeney, who has coached Clemson to two of the last three NCAA football titles. His new contract is for 10 years – at a whopping $92 million. There’s a hefty buyout if he wants to leave for Alabama but he’s also assured of an adjustment if he’s winning and others are making more. Nice work if you can get it, eh?

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.