The Boston Celtics lost another icon as legendary player and coach K.C. Jones died Friday at the age of 88.
Jones won 12 NBA Championships, 11 in Boston during his career as a player and coach.
Reactions from around the NBA started to circulate just as the Celtics were set to host the Brooklyn Nets in their Christmas showdown.
"K.C. Jones is the nicest human being I ever met in my life," said Hall of Famer Larry Bird. "He was a gracious man, not just to his players, but to all."
"K.C Jones was among the most decorated champions in the history of our game," said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. "His relentless defense as a player remarkable poise as a coach made him essential to 12 NBA championship teams, including 11 with the Boston Celtics. From winning two NCAA titles to earning an Olympic gold medal to helping the Celtics win eight consecutive NBA Finals during his Hall of Fame career, K.C.'s extraordinary accomplishments and impact will long be remembered. Our thoughts are with K.C.'s loved ones and the entire Celtics organization."
Statement from the Boston Celtics
Where K.C. Jones went, winning was sure to follow. K.C. -- his given name -- was a twelve-time NBA champion as player and coach, a two-time NCAA champion, and a Gold medal-winning Olympian and Hall of Famer. In NBA history, only teammates Bill Russell and Sam Jones have more championship rings during their playing careers. K.C. along with Russell, Clyde Lovellette, Jerry Lucas, Quinn Buckner, Earvin “Magic “Johnson and Michael Jordan, are the only players in history to achieve basketball’s “Triple Crown” -- winning an NCAA Championship, an NBA Championship and an Olympic Gold Medal. His number 25 has hung from the rafters since 1967.
K.C.’s coaching career was similarly illustrious. He was named to lead the Celtics in 1983, beginning what is one of the most remarkable head coaching runs the NBA has seen. K.C. helmed the Celtics for two of the most memorable seasons in the team’s rich history, first leading the team to a championship in 1984 over the Lakers during a peak of that storied rivalry. Two seasons later, he led what many consider the greatest team in NBA history, the 1986 Champion Boston Celtics. These were the highlights of an astonishing four consecutive seasons in the NBA Finals, one of the most impressive and beloved Celtics eras.
K.C. also demonstrated that one could be both a fierce competitor and a gentleman in every sense of the word. 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. The Celtics family mourns his loss, as we celebrate his remarkable career and life.