My most vivid recollection of KC Jones is as coach of the Boston Celtics, two decades removed from a hall of fame career with the same team. This was in the mid-eighties, when he was selected by Red Auerbach to replace Bill Fitch. Jones had served as an assistant to Fitch, and was right there when the Celtics won the championship in 1981. Following the ’83 playoffs Auerbach decided that it was time to make and change, and Jones was promoted to the position of head coach. I remember seeing a clip of the KC Jones hiring on TV, and was struck by the dignity with which he carried himself. He was a true gentleman, a throwback to a different era when sports stars – and, as a member of eight NBA Champions with the Celtics in the 1960s, KC Jones was every bit the certifiable sports star – weren’t the untouchable mega-conglomerates that they are today…
Jones on the great Bob Cousy:
Cousy had a tremendous amount of confidence in himself. Red didn’t want Cousy, and many people tend to forget that. Didn’t want him at all. Bypassed him in the 1950 draft, then got him when Cousy’s NBA team (Chicago Stags) folded. They (Stags) had three players everybody wanted, and the three names were put into a hat. The Celtics drew last, and Cousy’s name was the last name to come out of the hat. Bob Cousy had a great intellect. He was a voracious reader. On the court he quickly became famous for those behind-the-back passes and the fancy dribbling. Red called the fancy stuff ‘French pastries’, but Cousy was very successful with it. He always had a high number of assists, and he had that on-the-run, one-foot shot. That was one of his trademarks.
Jones on coaching the great Larry Bird:
The word that comes to my mind is ‘appreciation’. I have a tremendous amount of appreciation for Larry Bird. He was such a hard worker, and was always trying to improve his game. Everyone knew that he was a great offensive player, everyone knew that he was going to get his points. But when he came into the league everyone said that he was too slow to play in the NBA, that he couldn’t jump, that he couldn’t defend. Then you’d look at the box score and he had twelve, fourteen rebounds. Larry was more than a great player – he was a joy to coach. So motivated. He led by example. And not only that, having Larry on the floor was like having another coach out there. He saw so much before it happened. He understood the game better than anyone else on the floor. That’s why he had so much success with Indiana. There will never be another player like Larry. He’s one of the greatest of all time.