After the Olympics, White was drafted in 1969 in the first round (9th pick overall) by the NBA's Boston Celtics, who at that time had just won their 11th championship in 13 years. There was some reluctance during the time of the draft as White had a mandatory two-year military commitment. Then Boston general manager, Red Auerbach, was able to shorten White's commitment and allow him to participate in the 1969–70 NBA season. White was also drafted by the Dallas Cowboys and the Cincinnati Reds.
However, before White even reported to training camp, the Celtics' center and player-coach Bill Russell announced his retirement and cut ties to the organization. Also, the team's long-time Shooting Guard Sam Jones would end his career, requiring White to replace those duties. Without the sudden departure of Russell and Jones, White would endure a rebuilding season where the franchise experience their first losing season (38-48) since 1950 (the year before Red Auerbach was hired). White made the All-NBA rookie team during the 1970
The Celtics got back on track by drafting Dave Cowens, trading for Paul Silas, retaining veteran John Havlicek, and hiring of coach Tommy Heinsohn. With White leading the attack from the point guard position, the team returned to its winning ways in 1971. He was an All-Star for seven straight years from 1971 through 1977, finishing in the top ten in the league in assists from 1973–1977. In 1974, White and the Celtics reached the 1974 NBA Finals. They would face the Milwaukee Bucks who were returning with their championship-winning core from the 1971 NBA Finals, including future Hall of Fame members Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson. With the Bucks starting point guard, Lucius Allen, injured at the onset of the playoffs, White would lead a small, quick line-up (featuring undersized, All-Star Cowens at Center) towards the first Celtics championship in the Post-Russell era. The following season, White led the Celtics in minutes in a season where they would finish 1st in NBA Atlantic Division with a 60-22 record but lost the Eastern Conference Finals.
In 1976, White was part of a dominance Celtics squad which featured 5 veterans averaging double-digit scoring. During the playoffs, White led the Celtics to the NBA championship and was a starring player in what is often referred to as "the greatest game ever played" in NBA history. In the triple overtime win against the Phoenix Suns in game 5 of those finals, White was the game's high scorer with 33 points, had a game high 9 assists, leading the Celtics to a 128-126 win. Logging 60 minutes of play time, only the Suns' Garfield Heard (61) played more minutes. White was named the most valuable player of the 1976 NBA Finals. White went on to become one of professional basketball's first "iron men", playing in all 82 games for five consecutive seasons during the 1970s and setting a franchise record of 488 consecutive games played. With the end of the streak, the aging Celtics became a less effective squad and followed their championship with an exit from playoff semifinals in 1977 and then two losing seasons.
Unable to retain his all-star form, White was traded by the Celtics to the Golden State Warriors in the middle1979, and retired in 1981, with the Kansas City Kings. He returned to the Jayhawks as an assistant coach from 1982–83. In 1987 at the age of 41, White attempted a professional comeback as a player-assistant coach with the Topeka Sizzlers of the Continental Basketball Association.
On Friday, April 9, 1982, his number 10 was hung from the rafters at the Boston Garden. He is in currently in the top 100 in the NBA for career total field goals made, field goals attempted, assists, free throw percentage, minutes per game, and defensive rating. He made the All-NBA Second Team in the 1974–75 and 1976–77 NBA seasons. White continues to be involved in basketball and is currently director of special projects and community relations with the Celtics, while continuing to attend most home games.
His exclusion from the Basketball Hall of Fame is a common topic when discussing players who have long been eligible but have not been inducted, with most writers believing his entry has been long delayed.  One writer in 2012 went as far as to declare a Jo Jo White Threshold as a marker for viability among future candidates.  According to Basketball Reference, White has the highest calculated probability of induction among eligible candidates, yet ranks 156th in Win Shares among 2014 eligible candidates. He and Cedric Maxwell are the only NBA Finals MVP's, out of that the 19 that are eligible, to not be inducted. NBA.com lists White as an "NBA Hall of Famer" in his player profile.
In 1997, he was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. He is was inducted in the Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame with the class of 2009. He also joined the 2013 class of the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame.
In 2010, White underwent a procedure to remove a tumor on the back of his brain, which he has since mostly recovered. During recovery, his attorney authored a biography "Make it Count" that was released in 2012.