NBA Rumor: KC Jones Death

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Guy Zucker: I approached KC Jones, the head coach, after one of the games at the old Boston Garden, and asked him for a short interview. “Give me your number,” he said, ” Someone from the Celtics will be calling you.” I was quite certain that he was just being polite and did not expect a call. However, within two days, I got a call from a staff member who told me to be ready at 3 pm the next day to be picked up to go see KC. “Are we going to practice?” I asked Wayne Lebeaux (the Celtics equipment and road Manager), the man who picked me up the next day. “No, we’re going to KC’s home,” he said.

Guy Zucker: Once inside KC’s home, he couldn’t have been nicer. Although I was young and a foreigner, he treated me with incredible interest and respect. There wasn’t even a trace of the inflated egos that are so commonly found in pro sports. “What are you studying,” he asked (politely, I thought) before we started the interview. “Sociology.’ “Anything interesting?” “Actually, I’m writing a term paper about the evolution of leaders in street basketball.” “Really?”

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 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.”

Celtics release statement on KC Jones' death

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.
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