Chris Havlicek and Italy Pro Basketball
Chris Havlicek, son of professional basketball player John Havlicek, followed his father footsteps by entering a professional basketball career. But instead of the traditional NBA route, Chris began in Italy as a shooting guard in the second division.
To those familiar with his father’s eight NBA championships and overtime scoring records, Chris’ entrance into Italy pro basketball may seem a bit overshadowed, but for thousands of professional athletes born in the United States, the best path to superstardom is through foreign sports leagues.
For Chris Havlicek, the same principle held true, but in a much unexpected fashion. Ultimately, Chris didn’t follow his father’s footsteps and join the NBA. In fact, his career in Italy only lasted about four months. However, it was during that time that Chris was exposed to a new passion: team handball.
While pursuing his career as a pro basketball player in Italy, Havlicek mastered his approach to team handball. The contact sport, often described as a mesh between basketball and soccer, is exceedingly popular in Europe. Chris’s 6-foot-5-inch frame proved to be just as effective on the handball court, and perhaps even more so than it was during professional basketball games. Ultimately, Chris’ incredible drive for success landed him on the US Olympics Handball Team.
Professional Basketball in Italy
For those unfamiliar with Italian basketball, the regulations and competitive formats may be a bit surprising. With a hierarchal system comprising 10 main competitions, the Italian basketball league features a much different system from that in the United States. Still, it’s an improving organization that has helped produce a number of successful athletes, many of whom have transitioned to the NBA.
For more information about Chris Havlicek, read our page on his College Basketball Career at UVA.