Boston Celtics legend Sam Jones, a lightning-fast guard and clutch shooter whose 10 NBA titles rank second in league history, has died at age 88, a team spokesman announced Friday. Jones, inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984, was a key spark in the Celtics’ 1960s dynasty, averaging 17.7 points and 4.9 rebounds a game and earning the nickname “Mr. Clutch” for his late-game heroics. The Celtics said Jones died Thursday night in Florida, where he had been hospitalized.
Jones won NBA titles with the Celtics from 1959-1966 and in 1968 and 1969. Only long-time teammate and iconic Celtics center Bill Russell, with 11 NBA titles, has won more than Jones.
“Sam Jones will be remembered as one of the most prolific champions in all of professional sports,” said NBA commissioner Adam Silver. “His selfless style, clutch performances and signature bank shot were hallmarks of an incredible career.
“Sam was a beloved teammate and respected competitor who played the game with dignity and class. We mourn the passing of a basketball giant.”
The Celtics held a moment of silence in tribute to Jones on Friday before a 123-108 home victory over Phoenix, and showed a video tribute to him.
The club retired his jersey number, 24, in 1969, the same year Jones retired.
“Sam Jones was one of the most talented, versatile, and clutch shooters for the most successful and dominant teams in NBA history,” the Celtics said in a statement.
“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.”
Celtics broadcaster Cedric Maxwell tweeted, “Well, the banks are open in heaven this #NYE.”
Jones used the bank shot to deadly effectiveness, keeping his calm in tense late-game pressure situations.
The five-time NBA All-Star led the Celtics in scoring five times and was named the NBA’s 25th, 50 and 75th anniversary teams, the last of those coming in 2021.