BOSTON — Basketball Corridor of Famer Okay.C. Jones, an Olympic gold medalist and two-time NCAA champion who gained eight straight NBA titles through the Celtics’ Invoice Russell period after which coached the Boston groups with Larry Chicken, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish to 2 extra championships within the Eighties, has died. He was 88.
The Celtics stated Jones’ household confirmed that he died on Friday at an assisted residing facility in Connecticut, the place he had been receiving take care of Alzheimer’s illness for a number of years.
“Okay.C. was the nicest man I ever met. He at all times went out of his strategy to make individuals really feel good, it was such an honor to play for him,” Chicken stated in an announcement. “His accomplishments are too many to listing, however, to me, his biggest accomplishment was being such an excellent particular person to all who had the privilege of realizing him, I’ll miss him dearly.”
Jones is certainly one of seven gamers in historical past to have gained an Olympic gold medal, an NCAA championship and an NBA title. He gained two extra NBA crowns as an assistant coach and was the Celtics head coach after they went to the NBA Finals 4 straight years from 1984-87, profitable all of it in ’84 and once more two years later with a group that gained a then-record 67 regular-season video games and went 15-3 within the postseason.
Solely Russell and fellow Celtics teammate Sam Jones gained extra NBA championships as gamers.
“The place Okay.C. Jones went, profitable was positive to comply with,” the Celtics stated in an announcement earlier than their Christmas Day sport towards the Brooklyn Nets.
“Okay.C. additionally demonstrated that one may very well be each a fierce competitor and a gentleman in each sense of the phrase. He made his teammates higher, and he received essentially the most out of the gamers he coached,” the group stated. “By no means one to hunt credit score, his glory was present in essentially the most elementary of basketball beliefs — being a part of a profitable group.”
Jones is the third Corridor of Famer from the 1965 NBA champions to die this 12 months: John Thompson, who went on to larger success because the coach at Georgetown, died in August, and Celtics participant and coach Tommy Heinsohn died final month. Two days after observing a second of silence for Heinsohn earlier than their season opener, the Celtics had one other for Jones on Friday.
“He was a terrific coach to work for. He was a category act, and but he had this aggressive edge that was fierce,” stated present Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who performed for the group from 1981-88, when Jones was an assistant after which head coach.
“He had this gentleness and kindness. He was a terrific chief of males,” Ainge stated earlier than Friday’s sport. “I checked out him as a mentor, and a good friend. Way more than a coach.”
A degree guard who excelled on protection, Jones joined with Russell to steer San Francisco to back-to-back NCAA championships in 1955-56. The 2 additionally performed on the U.S. group that gained the Olympic gold medal on the 1956 Video games in Melbourne. Jones reunited with Russell in Boston to win eight straight NBA titles from 1959-66.
“Buddies for all times,” Russell posted on Twitter, together with what he stated was their final photograph collectively.
Jones retired in 1967 and started teaching, first in faculty at Brandeis and Harvard earlier than becoming a member of the Los Angeles Lakers as an assistant, the place he earned one other NBA championship ring in 1972. He had head teaching stints with the San Diego Conquistadors of the ABA and led the Washington Bullets to the 1975 NBA Finals.
After a cease in Milwaukee, Jones returned to Boston in 1978 and gained his tenth NBA title as an assistant on Invoice Fitch’s workers in 1981. He took over for Fitch in 1984 and over the following 5 seasons by no means gained fewer than 57 video games or failed to achieve the Japanese Convention finals.
Ainge stated Jones was misunderstood and underappreciated as a result of he was extra laid again than a few of his predecessors and thus much less typically talked about among the many nice Celtics coaches like Pink Auerbach, Heinsohn and Fitch.
“Persons are at all times in search of the individuals which are in search of that spotlight in entrance of the cameras. Okay.C. was high quality with everyone else getting the eye and never a lot being centered on him,” Ainge stated. “He didn’t should do it fairly often — and he didn’t do it fairly often — however when the time got here to take a stand, he would go toe-to-toe with the Corridor of Fame gamers on our group.”
Jones’ No. 25 was retired by the Celtics in 1967, and he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Corridor of Fame in 1989.