K. C. Jones (May 25, 1932 – December 25, 2020) was an American professional basketball player and coach. He is best known for his association with the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association (NBA), with whom he won 11 of his 12 NBA championships (eight as a player, one as an assistant coach, and two as a head coach). As a player, he is tied for third for most NBA championships in a career, and is one of three NBA players with an 8–0 record in NBA Finals series. He is the only African-American coach other than Bill Russell to win multiple NBA championships. Jones was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1989.
Jones attended Commerce High School in San Francisco, California, where he played basketball and football. He played college basketball at the University of San Francisco and, along with Bill Russell, led the Dons to NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956. Jones also played with Russell on the United States team which won the gold medal at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia.
After completing college and joining the NBA, Jones considered a career as an NFL player, even trying out for a team. However, he failed to make the cut. During his playing days, he was known as a tenacious defender. Jones spent all of his nine seasons in the NBA with the Boston Celtics, being part of eight championship teams from 1959 to 1966, retiring after the Celtics’ loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1967 playoffs. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1989.
Jones is one of only eight players in basketball history to win an NCAA championship, an NBA championship, and an Olympic gold medal, joining Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Jerry Lucas, Clyde Lovellette, Quinn Buckner, and Anthony Davis. In NBA history, only his former teammates Russell (11 championships) and Sam Jones (10 championships) have won more championship rings during their playing careers.
Awards and honors
- Two-time NCAA Champion
- 1956 Olympic Gold Medal winner
- 12-time NBA Champion (eight as a player, two as a head coach, two as an assistant coach)
- “Triple Crown” winner
- Five-time NBA All-Star Game head coach
- Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (class of 1989)
- College Basketball Hall of Fame (class of 2006)
- U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame (class of 1986 – as a member of the 1956 U.S. men’s basketball team)
- 2016 Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award
Social media has been inundated with tributes to KC Jones after confirmation the Boston Celtics legend and Hall of Fame basketball great has died at the age of 88.
Jones won eight NBA championships as a Celtics player in the 1960s and two more as the head coach of the Boston teams that won titles in 1984 and ’86.
The Celtics said Jones’ family confirmed Friday he had died at an assisted living facility in Connecticut, where he had been receiving care for Alzheimer’s disease for several years.
Jones joined with fellow Hall of Famer Bill Russell to lead San Francisco to back-to-back NCAA championships in 1955-56.
The two also played on the US team that won the Olympic gold medal at the 1956 Games in Melbourne.
A second-round draft choice by the Celtics, Jones reunited with Russell to win eight straight NBA titles from 1959-66.
The Celtics family mourns the loss of twelve-time NBA champion, two-time NCAA champion, Gold medal-winning Olympian and Hall of Famer, K.C. Jones, as we celebrate his remarkable career and life.
Jones was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989 and his number 25 has hung from the rafters at Boston’s TD Garden since 1967.
“I just received a call letting me know my x-roommate/teammate and most of all friend, the great KC Jones, passed this morning,” Russell wrote on Twitter next to a photo of the pair smiling around a table.
“Prayers to his family. We have been friends for almost 60 years, this our last photo together. Friends for life.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement paying testament to Jones’ impact on the sport.
“K.C. Jones was among the most decorated champions in the history of our game,” Silver said.
“His relentless defense as a player and remarkable poise as a coach made him essential to 12 NBA championship teams, including 11 with the Boston Celtics.
“From winning two NCAA titles to earning an Olympic gold medal to helping the Celtics win eight consecutive NBA Finals during his Hall of Fame career, K.C.’s extraordinary accomplishments and impact will long be remembered.
“Our thoughts are with K.C.’s loved ones and the entire Celtics organization.”
Jones retired in 1967 and began coaching, first in college at Brandeis and Harvard before joining the Los Angeles Lakers as an assistant, in 1971-72, where he earned another championship ring.
He was an assistant coach on the Celtics team that won it all in 1981 before guiding the team led by Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish to the 1984 and ’86 championships.
“KC demonstrated that one could be both a fierce competitor and a gentleman in every sense of the word,” the Celtics said in a statement.
“He made his teammates better, and he got the most out of the players he coached. Never one to seek credit, his glory was found in the most fundamental of basketball ideals – being part of a winning team.
“The Celtics family mourns his loss, as we celebrate his remarkable career and life.”
|Career highlights and awards|
As assistant coach:
|Career playing statistics|
|Points||5,011 (7.4 ppg)|
|Rebounds||2,399 (3.5 rpg)|
|Assists||2,908 (4.3 apg)|
|Stats at NBA.com|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
|Career coaching record|
|Basketball Hall of Fame as player|
|College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2006
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