Legendary NBA champion and former Boston Celtics coach K.C. Jones has passed away at the age of 88.
On Friday (Dec. 25), the Boston Celtics confirmed his passing in a statement issued prior to the team’s game against the Brooklyn Nets. The Celtics, who won eight NBA titles thanks to Jones before he served as their head coach, did not confirm the cause of Jones’ death. Nonetheless, tributes for the deceased legend came pouring in from former teammates and other important figures in the NBA. Before their Christmas Day game began, the Boston Celtics held a moment of silence in honor of Jones’ memory.
“K.C. also demonstrated that one could be both a fierce competitor and a gentleman in every sense of the word,” the Celtics recalled in a statement Friday. “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.”
Jones’ landmark career with the Celtics began in 1959 after he won two NCAA championships and won the gold medal for the United States basketball team at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Au. During his tenure as a point guard for the Celtics, Jones helped the team win eight NBA championships. Jones retired in 1967 after the Celtics lost to the 76ers during the Eastern Division finals.
Not long after the Celtics retired his No. 25 jersey, Jones began his career as a head coach. He began coaching at Brandeis University and eventually moved on to coach the Los Angeles Lakers and the Washington Bullets. In 1983, Jones reunited with the Celtics as their head coach.
During the five years he served as head coach, Jones led the Celtics to the NBA Finals four times and won the championship in 1984 and 1986. After he left the Celtics in 1987, Jones moved on to coach in Seattle and Detroit before he was inducted into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame in 1989. Jones did make a comeback to the Celtics in 1996 but as an assistant coach for one season.
Rest in peace, K.C. Jones.