Hall of Famer and Celtics legend Jo Jo White dies at age 71

Jo Jo White was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015. (AP)

Boston Celtics legend Jo Jo White, who helped the franchise return to glory in the 1970s after Bill Russell’s retirement, lost his battle with cancer at age 71, the team announced on Tuesday night.

The Boston Herald’s Steve Bulpett first reported the news.

White played 10 seasons for the Celtics before finishing his career with the Golden State Warriors and Kansas Cit Kings, making seven straight All-Star appearances and winning two NBA titles in Boston alongside John Havlicek and Dave Cowens. The 1976 Finals MVP’s No. 10 hangs in the rafters of TD Garden, and he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s class of 2015.

“We are terribly saddened by the passing of the great Jo Jo White,” the Celtics said in a statement. “He was a champion and a gentleman; supremely talented and brilliant on the court, and endlessly gracious off of it. Jo Jo was a key member of two championship teams, an NBA Finals MVP, a gold medal-winning Olympian, and a Hall of Famer. His contributions to the team’s championship legacy may have only been surpassed by the deep and lasting impact that he had in the community. The thoughts and sympathies of the entire Celtics organization are with the White family.”

White played four seasons at the University of Kansas and won a gold medal as a member of the U.S. men’s national team at the 1968 Summer Olympics before the Celtics drafted him ninth overall in 1969.

Also drafted by the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and Major League Baseball’s Cincinnati Reds, White served one year in the U.S. Marine Corp Reserves before beginning his NBA career. Following his retirement in 1981, White later rejoined the Celtics as director of special projects, a role he served until his death.

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Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!