In the 1977-78 season, he became a Celtics assistant, working with Tom Heinsohn, Satch Sanders, Dave Cowens, and then Bill Fitch before taking over as head coach after the 1982-83 season, winning a championship in his first season. It’s unfortunate that Bird, McHale, Parish, Dennis Johnson, and Danny Ainge have received most, if not all, of the credit for that run. Those players adored Jones, especially Bird. “K.C. was the nicest man I ever met, he always went out of his way to make people feel good; it was such an honor to play for him,” Bird said in a text message. “K.C. and I had so many wins together, including two championships, which remain highlights of my life. His accomplishments are too many to list, but, to me, his greatest accomplishment was being such an outstanding person to all who had the privilege of knowing him. I will miss him dearly.”
“K.C. was a great coach to play for,” Ainge said. “He was a class act and everybody knew that and yet he had this competitive edge that was fierce. You wanted to do all you could to please K.C. as a coach. At the right time he knew what to say. He was a joy to be around. I looked at him as a mentor, a friend, much more than a coach.”
“K.C. was clearly the leader of our team,” Ainge said. “People are always looking for people who are seeking that attention and in front of the camera and K.C. was fine with everybody else getting the attention and not much focused on him. “There was a genuineness to him, a sincerity. There was no phoniness. We all knew that he cared deeply about us as people. He cared about the Celtics and the traditions but he really didn’t seek that attention and the players appreciated that in him. But he also stood up to some pretty strong personalities. He stood toe to toe with some of the stars on our team.”
Bill Russell: I just received a call letting me know my x-roommate/teammate & most of all friend the great KC Jones passed this morning. Prayers to his family. We have been friends for almost 60yrs, this our last photo together. Friends for life #2020Usuck! #RIP @NBA @celtics
Kyle Goon: Moment of silence for Celtics great KC Jones here at Staples Center. He was an assistant on the 72 championship Lakers team.
Tim MacMahon: Rick Carlisle has connected with several of his teammates from the '86 Celtics championship team on a "very sad day" today after the death of coach K.C. Jones. "He was just a very, very special man," Carlisle said.
Chris Grenham: Danny Ainge on KC Jones: "He was just a real guy. ... He did a fantastic job of coaching, but more than that he was a friend and mentor and he really cared deeply about us as people."
Chris Grenham: Danny Ainge on playing for KC Jones: "KC was a great coach to play for. ... He had this competitive edge that was fierce. ... But he had this gentleness and kindness. At the right time he knew what to say. He was a great leader of men."
George Karl: Sad news about KC Jones today. Another big loss this year for our sport. This year has been a constant reminder to celebrate our gifts and the people we love!
Where K.C. Jones went, winning was sure to follow. K.C. – his given name – was a twelve-time NBA champion as player and coach, a two-time NCAA champion, and a Gold medal-winning Olympian and Hall of Famer. In NBA history, only teammates Bill Russell and Sam Jones have more championship rings during their playing careers. K.C. along with Russell, Clyde Lovellette, Jerry Lucas, Quinn Buckner, Earvin “Magic “Johnson and Michael Jordan, are the only players in history to achieve basketball’s “Triple Crown” – winning an NCAA Championship, an NBA Championship and an Olympic Gold Medal. His number 25 has hung from the rafters since 1967.
K.C.’s coaching career was similarly illustrious. He was named to lead the Celtics in 1983, beginning what is one of the most remarkable head coaching runs the NBA has seen. K.C. helmed the Celtics for two of the most memorable seasons in the team’s rich history, first leading the team to a championship in 1984 over the Lakers during a peak of that storied rivalry. Two seasons later, he led what many consider the greatest team in NBA history, the 1986 Champion Boston Celtics. These were the highlights of an astonishing four consecutive seasons in the NBA Finals, one of the most impressive and beloved Celtics eras.
K.C. also demonstrated that one could be both a fierce competitor and a gentleman in every sense of the word. 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.
Keith Smith: Celtics legend KC Jones has passed away today. Jones was a part of 12 championships with the Celtics.