Basketball

Sam Jones, Sharpshooting Celtics Star of the Nineteen Sixties, Dies at 88

Sam Jones, the Boston Celtics’ sharpshooting Corridor of Fame guard who performed on 10 N.B.A. championship groups, a milestone exceeded solely by his teammate Invoice 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 within the Orlando space.

When Jones was chosen by the Celtics out of the traditionally Black North Carolina Faculty at Durham (now North Carolina Central College) within 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 schools had gained little nationwide discover on the time, he seen himself as a possible pioneer, although he questioned his probabilities of making a Celtics lineup brimming with stars.

“I had numerous strain placed on me,” Jones informed The Boston Globe in 2009. “We didn’t have scouts coming in to see what the Black schools have been doing. If I make good, they’re going to start out wanting into the Black schools.”

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

Sam Jones performed on Celtics groups that received 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 numerous baskets he scored within the ultimate 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 many 50 biggest gamers in N.B.A. historical past when the league celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 1996. He as soon as held the Celtics’ single-game scoring report, with 51 factors towards the Detroit Pistons in October 1965. When he retired after 12 seasons, he was the staff’s profession scoring chief, with 15,411 factors. Larry Chook and Jayson Tatum are the present single-game record-holders, with 60 factors, and Havlicek holds the profession scoring report, with 26,395.

Jones was famend for utilizing the backboard when most gamers have been taking pictures straight on the hoop.

“Sam confirmed them the right way to use the financial institution shot,” Auerbach as soon as informed United Press Worldwide. “He made it common, and he made it an artwork.”

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 Faculty, taking part in for the Corridor of Fame coach John B. McLendon in a Division II program, he was a positive shooter, scoring a complete of 1,170 factors, and an impressive rebounder.

Auerbach had by no means seen Jones play in school. However he drafted him when Bones McKinney, a North Carolinian and one in every of Auerbach’s former gamers, raved about him. Jones had deliberate to grow to be a instructor however tried his luck on the Celtics’ coaching camp.

He was a reserve for a number of seasons earlier than taking up for Sharman. Although he was 6-foot-4, tall for a guard on 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 person defending him, who was watching the ball, and prepare to snare a go from Russell and convert it right into a financial institution shot. As he informed NBA.com, “You solely want a second to get a shot off.”

Jones retired from the Celtics in 1969 and was later head coach at Federal Metropolis Faculty in Washington (now the College 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 kids. Info on survivors was not instantly obtainable.

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

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

“I by no means challenged him by attempting to drive proper on him — he’d simply block your shot,” he informed Terry Pluto for the N.B.A. oral historical past “Tall Tales” (1992). “I’d cease in entrance of him and shoot over him. Then I talked to him. I talked to all people on the court docket, nevertheless it was numerous enjoyable to say issues to Wilt as a result of he’d react to them.”

In a fight-filled fourth quarter of Recreation 5 in that Celtics-Warriors sequence, Jones collided with Chamberlain, who outweighed him by practically 50 kilos, they usually exchanged unpleasantries. When Chamberlain grabbed at Jones’s wrist — maybe in a peace gesture — Jones ran off the court docket.

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

“He was about able to go up into the stands — he didn’t wish to combat,” stated Chamberlain, the strongest man in professional basketball. “So I stated, ‘Ah, overlook it.’”

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