KC Jones, a 12-time NBA champion as a player and coach and 1956 Olympic gold medalist, has died, his former club the Boston Celtics announced Friday. He was 88.
Jones, who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1989, captured 10 titles as a player, two more as a coach and two others as an assistant coach.
“The Celtics family mourns the loss of twelve-time NBA champion, two-time NCAA champion, Gold medal-winning Olympian and Hall of Famer K.C. 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 1955 and 1956 national crowns and a 1956 Melbourne Olympics title alongside future Celtics teammate Bill Russell.
Russell tweeted that he was told Jones died Friday morning.
“The way that he was revered by the players he played with, by the people he worked with, by the players that played for him, he was special,” said current Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
With the Celtics, Jones won eight consecutive titles from 1959 to 1966. The club retired his jersey number, 25, in 1967.
Only Celtics teammates Russell and Sam Jones won more career NBA titles as players.
“Where K.C. Jones went, winning was sure to follow,” 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 served as an assistant coach for the 1972 NBA champions Los Angeles Lakers and served as head coach for the Washington Bullets for three seasons, but he joined the Celtics coaching staff in 1978 and was an assistant when they won the 1981 NBA crown.
In 1983, Jones was named Celtics head coach and guided the team to NBA championships in 1984 and 1986. Boston also reached the NBA finals under Jones in 1985 and 1987.
“K.C. also demonstrated that one could be both a fierce competitor and a gentleman in every sense of the word,” the Celtics said in their statement.
“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.”