1996 US Olympics Handball Team

Chris Havlicek US Olympics

1996 US Olympics Handball Team in Atlanta

It’s hard to believe that four Olympics Games have passed since Chris Havlicek, son of famous Celtics basketball player John Havlicek, represented the US team in the 1996 Olympics. As a member of the US men’s Olympic handball team, the 25-year-old former UVA basketball player was more than comfortable on the court.

Although team handball was popularized in Europe, Chris Havlicek made a name for himself at international tournaments including the World Championships and the Pan-Am Games. It may have been difficult for the young Havlicek to live up to his father’s reputation; after all, eight NBA championships are some pretty large shoes to fill. However, with his induction into the 1996 US Olympics handball team, Chris Havlicek accomplished a goal that would allow fans to see past his last name: He became an Olympian.

Father John Havlicek was pleased to impart some words of encouragement. After barely missing the cut for the 1960 Olympics basketball team, he was all too familiar with the adversity that comes with the Games, and he was quick to praise his son’s accomplishment. “He’ll be the first Olympian in the family, and that’s all for him.”

For Chris, the road to the Olympics wasn’t an easy one. Havlicek was the second-youngest player at the team-handball tryouts, and he faced stiff competition. Living up to the family name, Chris earned the honor to join the team in Atlanta.

Standing 6 foot 5 inches tall, and boasting just as much raw talent as athletic build, Chris Havlicek was designed for team handball. It’s a physical sport that combines soccer with basketball. But supporting his tough, sporty ambitions is a loving family. In fact, his mother spearheaded his “Adopt an Athlete” fundraiser, which raised the finances for travel, competition and other preparations for the Olympics.

More than 20 athletes participated in the program, which sold “Adopt an Athlete” kits comprising a gym bag, autographed photos from the athletes, biographies, a t-shirt and an Olympics pin. At only $40, it was an affordable way for Americans to represent their home team.

Ultimately, Chris Havlicek and the 1996 US Olympics handball team took home 9th place, but the stars returned home heroes. For more information about Chris Havlicek, visit our page on his Community Involvement  or learn about the Havlicek Family.