Sam Jones, Celtics Hall of Famer dies at 88
If you read Sam Jones’s Wikipedia page, you will learn that his nickname during his 12-year career with the Boston Celtics was “The Shooter.”
There’s no question the Hall of Famer was one of the best jump shooters in NBA history. But among those who knew him — his teammates, his coach, Boston media, and fans — his nickname was “Banksie.”
That’s because no one — before or since — made the bank shot into an art form the way Jones did. Of course, almost no one ever called him “Jones” because he wasn’t the only Jones in a backcourt that won 10 NBA titles in 12 seasons. K.C. Jones was his running mate for nine of those 12 seasons. Red Auerbach, their coach, called them “The Jones Boys.”
Sam Jones died Thursday night in Boca Raton, Fla., at age 88. He’d been in poor health this year, finally being forced to give up golf, a game he loved playing — and playing well — into his mid-80s.
A wiry 6-foot-4, Jones scored 15,411 regular-season points in his career — 17.7 per game. Given his ability as a shooter, one wonders how many points he would have scored had the three-point shot existed while he was playing. He was even better in the playoffs, averaging 18.9 points in 154 playoff games.
His story was one that could have been made into a Disney movie. He grew up in the Jim Crow South, playing high school ball in a tiny gym that was heated by stoves at each end of the court. He was recruited almost exclusively by Historically Black Colleges and Universities because the so-called big-time schools in the South weren’t recruiting Black athletes when he graduated from high school in 1951. He went to play for John McLendon at what was then the North Carolina College at Durham — it is now North Carolina Central University. Midway through college, Jones enlisted in the Army; he spent two years there and returned to complete his degree.
When he graduated in 1957, the Celtics had just won their first championship under Auerbach, led by a rookie center named Bill Russell. There were no scouts or even assistant coaches back then, so Auerbach relied on friends to advise him on college players.
Wake Forest Coach Bones McKinney, who had played for Auerbach when Auerbach coached the Washington Caps of the Basketball Association of America, told Auerbach about Jones, whom he’d seen play during his college career.
The Celtics had the last pick of the first round. Sight unseen — as had been the case a year earlier with Russell — Auerbach drafted Jones.
“I’d been drafted by the Lakers while I was in the Army, and I figured that’s where I was going,” he told me last year. “When I heard the Celtics had taken me, I wasn’t that happy about it. They were the world champions and had everybody back from that team. No one left as a free agent back then.”
Jones was the only rookie on that team, beating out three-year veteran Dickie Hemric for the last spot on the roster. Hemric had played at Wake Forest — for McKinney.
Reaed full article here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2022/01/01/feinstein-sam-jones-red-auerbach/