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Red Auerbach vs. The US Army: The drafting of JoJo White

 I can't relate it as well as Mark C. Bodanza, author of the JoJo White bio, Make It Count, but one of Red Auerbach's top draft conquests involved working to keep White out of the US Army - while keeping him in the Marine Reserves - and scooping him up as the ninth pick in the 1969 NBA draft (per Mark C. Bodanza):

"Then a funny thing happened. Eight teams, many fearing the impact of a two year delay... in White's basketball career, passed on the ball-handling, talented point guard. Sitting coyly with the ninth pick in the first round of the NBA's 1969 draft was the cigar-chomping , cards-close-to-the-vest general manager, Red Auerbach."

You see, JoJo had already been drafted into the Army, but subsequently enlisted in the Marine reserves. The machinations were complex, but while eight NBA general mangers were convinced that White would not be available to play in the NBA for at least two years, Red thought otherwise.

"Red was very powerful" was what JoJo White had to say about the whole saga. And as Bodanza added, "It's hard to doubt him (JoJo) and just as hard not to speculate on the Celtics legend's (Red Auerbach) hand in all of it". 

Little is known about this sleight-of-hand maneuver by "The Redhead", but it all worked. Tough to picture those two NBA Titles (1974, 1976) without JoJo White directing the offense and winning the Finals MVP Award in 1976. 

By the way, Bodanza's bio of JoJo is a "must-buy" for Celtics fans.


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