Today in Celtics history: Havlicek for 54, Wilson waived, Auerbach makes first dunk

Hondo going for 54 in the Garden.
Today, April 1st, 2017 is the 44th anniversary of former Boston Celtic wing John Havlicek's 54-point performance against the Atlanta Hawks.

Havlicek, who started off his career night with eight straight points in the first quarter, helped shellac the Hawks 134-109 at the Boston Garden in front of a crowd of 11,907 in the initial game of the first-round playoff series between the two teams (Boston would go on to win the series in six). At the time, it was not only the high-water scoring mark for Hondo, but a club record as well (the previous record had been held by Sam Jones, with 51). Havlicek put up 24 of 36 shooting for the night (also a league record, held before him by Rick Barry with 22), plus a perfect six of six from the charity stripe. Playing the full 48 minutes, Hondo also nabbed nine boards, and apart from one play, the whole offensive fiesta was completely organic, according to then-coach Tommy Heinsohn, who recently had some feelings about another high-scoring performance he happened to witness from the sidelines (per ESPN's Larry Schwartz):

"The only time we ran a specific play for him was the basket that broke 50..."

I guess I can see where some of that salt comes from in this context.

Today also happens to be the 40th anniversary of Bobby Wilson being waived by the club. One of the more improbably Celtics to ever suit up being waived after a 25-game-stint with the club. Wilson, who had a journeyman's path to the league and the team if ever there was one, was signed after Charlie Scott ended up on the injured list in the last season of Tommy Heinsohn's tenure as coach (for more on his time with the club and career in general, check out tbt727's longform interview here). Wilson mustered a solid effort as a rotation player, logging two points and .6 assists in just over five minutes per game in his time in green.

Today is also April Fool's Day, so if you came here to read about how Red Auerbach pioneered the slam dunk, I apologize - that absolutely did NOT happen, but I had to get you all somehow. Don't believe everything you read today...or any day. Happy April Fools, and don't take any wooden nickels, whatever that means.

For more stories about Celtics history on Celticslife, click here. For more by Justin, click here.

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