Sam Jones, Sharpshooting Celtics Star of the 1960s, Dies at 88


Sam Jones, the Boston Celtics’ sharpshooting Hall of Fame guard who performed on 10 N.B.A. championship groups, a milestone exceeded solely by his teammate Bill Russell, died on Thursday in Florida. He was 88.

His demise was introduced by a Celtics spokesman, who didn’t specify a trigger however stated that Jones had been in failing well being. He additionally didn’t say the place in Florida he died, however Jones had been residing in the Orlando space.

When Jones was chosen by the Celtics out of the traditionally Black North Carolina College at Durham (now North Carolina Central University) in the first spherical of the 1957 draft — he was the eighth participant chosen general — he was extra astonished and apprehensive than thrilled. Since gamers at Black faculties had gained little nationwide discover at the time, he considered himself as a possible pioneer, although he questioned his probabilities of making a Celtics lineup brimming with stars.

“I had a lot of pressure put on me,” Jones instructed The Boston Globe in 2009. “We didn’t have scouts coming in to see what the Black colleges were doing. If I make good, they’re going to start looking into the Black colleges.”

Despite his doubts, Jones rapidly impressed Coach Red Auerbach. He went on to group with K.C. Jones (no relation), a tenacious defender, in a backcourt pairing that finally changed that of Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman, two of the N.B.A.’s biggest gamers of the 1950s. The Joneses turned half of a record-setting run alongside Russell, who reworked the middle place together with his rebounding and protection, the forwards Tom Heinsohn, John Havlicek and Satch Sanders, and Cousy and Sharman of their last seasons.

Sam Jones performed on Celtics groups that gained eight consecutive N.B.A. championships (1959 to 1966) and one other two in 1968 and 1969. A five-time All-Star, he was referred to as Mr. Clutch for the many baskets he scored in the last seconds of playoff video games. His whole of 10 championship rings has been exceeded solely by Russell’s 11.

Jones was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., in 1984 and was named one of the 50 biggest gamers in N.B.A. historical past when the league celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1996. He as soon as held the Celtics’ single-game scoring document, with 51 factors towards the Detroit Pistons in October 1965. When he retired after 12 seasons, he was the group’s profession scoring chief, with 15,411 factors. Larry Bird and Jayson Tatum are the present single-game record-holders, with 60 factors, and Havlicek holds the profession scoring document, with 26,395.

Jones was famend for utilizing the backboard when most gamers have been capturing immediately at the hoop.

“Sam showed them how to use the bank shot,” Auerbach as soon as instructed United Press International. “He made it popular, and he made it an art.”

Jones had supreme confidence in that shot. As he put it, “I felt it was like making a layup.”

Samuel Jones was born on June 24, 1933, in Wilmington, N.C. At North Carolina College, enjoying for the Hall of Fame coach John B. McLendon in a Division II program, he was a wonderful shooter, scoring a complete of 1,170 factors, and an excellent rebounder.

Auerbach had by no means seen Jones play in faculty. But he drafted him when Bones McKinney, a North Carolinian and one of Auerbach’s former gamers, raved about him. Jones had deliberate to turn into a trainer however tried his luck at the Celtics’ coaching camp.

He was a reserve for a number of seasons earlier than taking up for Sharman. Though he was 6-foot-4, tall for a guard at the time, he was faster than many smaller guards.

When he noticed Russell about to snare an offensive rebound, Jones would transfer away from the man defending him, who was watching the ball, and prepare to snare a cross from Russell and convert it right into a financial institution shot. As he instructed NBA.com, “You only need a second to get a shot off.”

Jones retired from the Celtics in 1969 and was later head coach at Federal City College in Washington (now the University of the District of Columbia) and at North Carolina Central. He was an assistant coach for the N.B.A.’s New Orleans Jazz.

Jones and his spouse, Gladys Chavis Jones, who died in 2018, had 5 youngsters. Information on survivors was not instantly out there.

Jones averaged 17.7 factors a sport in the common season for the Celtics, however he was notably harmful in the playoffs. He hit a soar shot over the Philadelphia Warriors’ Wilt Chamberlain in the last seconds of Game 7 in the 1962 Eastern Division playoff last, giving Boston a 109-107 victory. He had 5 of the Celtics’ 10 additional time factors towards the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 7 of the league finals, serving to to propel Boston to a fourth consecutive championship.

Jones relished getting the greatest of the 7-foot-1 Chamberlain.

“I never challenged him by trying to drive right on him — he’d just block your shot,” he instructed Terry Pluto for the N.B.A. oral historical past “Tall Tales” (1992). “I’d stop in front of him and shoot over him. Then I talked to him. I talked to everybody on the court, but it was a lot of fun to say things to Wilt because he’d react to them.”

In a fight-filled fourth quarter of Game 5 in that Celtics-Warriors collection, Jones collided with Chamberlain, who outweighed him by almost 50 kilos, and so they exchanged unpleasantries. When Chamberlain grabbed at Jones’s wrist — maybe in a peace gesture — Jones ran off the courtroom.

“He saw Wilt still coming after him, so Sam picked up one of the photographers’ chairs and held it out at Wilt as if Sam were a lion tamer,” the referee Norm Drucker recalled to Mr. Pluto.

“He was about ready to go up into the stands — he didn’t want to fight,” stated Chamberlain, the strongest man in professional basketball. “So I said, ‘Ah, forget it.’”



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