New York (AFP)
KC Jones, 12-time NBA champion as a player and coach and 1956 Olympic gold medalist, has died, his former club, the Boston Celtics, said on Friday. He was 88 years old.
Jones, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1989, won 10 titles as a player, two more as a coach and two more as an assistant coach.
“The Celtics family mourns the loss of twelve-time NBA champion, two-time NCAA champion, gold medalist Olympian and Hall of Famer KC Jones as we celebrate his remarkable career and life,” the Celtics said in a statement.
Jones played college basketball at the University of San Francisco, winning the 1955 and 1956 National Crowns and a title at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics alongside future Celtics teammate Bill Russell.
Russell tweeted that he was told Jones died on Friday morning.
“The way he was revered by the players he played with, by the people he worked with, by the players who played for him, he was special,” said current Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
With the Celtics, Jones won eight straight titles from 1959 to 1966. The club retired his jersey number, 25, in 1967.
Only Celtics teammates Russell and Sam Jones have won more career NBA titles as players.
“Where KC Jones has gone, victory would follow for sure,” the Celtics said.
Jones joined Russell, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Quinn Buckner, Jerry Lucas and Clyde Lovellette as the only players to complete the “Triple Crown” of NBA and NCAA titles plus Olympic gold.
Jones was assistant coach of the 1972 NBA champions Los Angeles Lakers and head coach of the Washington Bullets for three seasons, but he joined the Celtics’ coaching staff in 1978 and was an assistant when they won the NBA crown in 1981.
In 1983, Jones was named head coach of the Celtics and guided the team to the NBA Championships in 1984 and 1986. Boston also reached the NBA Finals under Jones in 1985 and 1987.
“KC has also shown that you can be both a fierce competitor and a gentleman in every sense of the word,” the Celtics said in the statement.
“He improved his teammates and he got the most out of the players he coached. Never one to seek credit, his fame was found in basketball’s most basic ideal – being on a winning team. ”
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