For those of us who are old enough to remember the great Boston Celtics teams of the 1960s, the passing this week of K.C. Jones, an integral member of that championship dynasty, is bittersweet. K.C. Jones led an incredible life, rising from his dirt-poor childhood to the very heights of athletic accomplishment, becoming one of only a handful of athletes to be a member of NCAA, Olympic, and professional basketball championship teams.
One of the most amazing facts about K.C. Jones is that after graduating from the University of San Francisco (where he was a teammate with Bill Russell) in 1956, he entered the U.S. Army for a two-year hitch before embarking on his career with the Celtics (who had made him their second draft pick in 1956) in 1958. K.C. Jones epitomized the concept of a team player — he was a leader in assists and always drew the toughest defensive assignment from the opposing team. His willingness to do whatever it took for the good of the team was a character trait that he later imbued in the great Celtics teams that he coached in the 1980s.
K.C. Jones exuded a quiet confidence. He let his actions on the court, both as a player and as a coach, speak for themselves with no need for the sort of self-aggrandizement and hyperbole that is typical among athletes today. We found it hard to believe that K.C. Jones was 88 years old at his passing — it makes us realize the truth of the axiom, “Time flies.” K.C. Jones will be remembered as a wonderful athlete, coach, and role-model. He was a first-class person in everything he did, both on and off the court. May he rest in peace.