June 14, 2024

Sam Jones, Hall of Famer who won 10 NBA titles with Boston Celtics, dies at 88

Sam Jones, the legendary Boston Celtics shooting guard who played on 10 NBA championship teams, has died at the age of 88.

The former athlete died Thursday night in Florida, where he had been hospitalized with failing health, said Celtics spokesperson Jeff Twiss to the Associated Press. The cause of death, however, is still unknown.

“Sam Jones was one of the most talented, versatile, and clutch shooters for the most successful and dominant teams in NBA history,” said the Celtics said in a statement.

“His scoring ability was so prolific, and his form so pure, that he earned the simple nickname, ‘The Shooter.’…The Jones family is in our thoughts as we mourn his loss and fondly remember the life and career of one of the greatest champions in American sports.”

On Friday afternoon, the Celtics commemorated the Hall of Famer with a moment of silence before their New Year’s Eve game against the Phoenix Suns.

Jones was selected by the Celtics in the first round of the 1957 draft, following a decorated college basketball career at North Carolina Central University.

He went on to play all 12 of his NBA seasons with the Celtics, becoming a key player in the team’s winning dynasty. Between 1957 and 1969, the team won 11 out of 13 NBA championships under the direction of Hall of Fame coach Red Auerbach.

Jones helped the team win 10 titles during the reign, a record only exceeded only by his teammate Bill Russell, who won 11.

Sam Jones - theGrio.com
Sam Jones was a 10-time NBA champion with the Celtics, died on December 30, 2021, after big hospitalized with failing health. He was 88 years old. (PhotoCred:Dick Raphael/NBAE/Getty Images)

“Sam was one of the great shooters of all time,” Auerbach once said about the champion. 

Jones became a five-time All-Star and ended his career with 15,411 points, averaging 17.7 points per game. In his final game against the Los Angeles Lakers in 1969, Jones led the Celtics to victory scoring 24 points.

“But he was team-oriented. All he wanted to do was win. … The great athletes, they played for pride,” Auerbach added.

In 1984, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Members of the basketball community continue to mourn the death of Jones on social media.

“His selfless style, clutch performances and signature bank shot were hallmarks of an incredible career,” tweeted NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who also said that Jones is an “HBCU legend” and “one of the most prolific champions” in the sport. 

“Sam was a beloved teammate and respected competitor who played the game with dignity and class. We mourn the passing of a basketball giant and send our deepest condolences to Sam’s family and the Celtics organization,” Silver added.

“Another one of my dear friends lost,” said the Celtics broadcaster Cedric Maxwell on his Twitter. “Well, the banks are open in heaven this #NYE.”

After retiring, Jones became a substitute teacher in Maryland for more than 30 years.

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