WQCS Header Background Image
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Boston Celtics Legend K.C. Jones Dies At 88

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

K.C. Jones died Christmas Day at age 88 but not before helping the Boston Celtics to eight straight NBA championships as a player and two more as head coach. In Boston, he's remembered for his steady temperament.

GARY WASHBURN: Focused, fiery, but he controlled his emotions.

KELLY: Gary Washburn is a basketball writer for The Boston Globe.

WASHBURN: He wasn't one of these coaches who wanted to be on all the television shows and wanted to be known as the coach of the world champion Celtics. He wanted to leave the accolades to his players.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

As a player at the University of San Francisco, he won two national titles. In Boston, he was a defensive-minded point guard, a complement to the great center Bill Russell, his friend and teammate in all those college and pro championships. They also won an Olympic gold medal together. Jones came back to the Celtics as a coach. He led the team to NBA titles in 1984 and 1986.

WASHBURN: He was kind of the man behind all of the greatness of the '80s Celtics. The '80s Celtics get a lot of accolades and credit and get a lot of, you know, kudos for Larry Bird and Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, the great players - you know, five Hall of Famer - six Hall of Famers that they had at the time. But the guy who guided them and who led them to that success was K.C. Jones.

KELLY: Washburn says that while Jones never sought the limelight, he did have to deal with all the big egos on that team, and nobody ever had a bad thing to say about him.

CHANG: And he was also remembered for something else.

WASHBURN: Him and Al Attles in 1975 were coaching in the NBA Finals. They were the first two African American coaches to coach their teams. There was two African American coaches facing each other.

KELLY: There's yet another side of K.C. Jones' personality. During his coaching days, he would occasionally drop by a nightspot on Beacon Hill in Boston.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KC JONES: I'd come in here and celebrate a little bit and then sing a song or two. But after losing a ballgame, I'd come in for some therapy.

(LAUGHTER)

JONES: And music is always good therapy.

(Singing) You're nobody until somebody loves you.

CHANG: Basketball player and coach and song stylist K.C. Jones - he died last week at the age of 88.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JONES: (Singing) You may be king... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.