There weren’t many tales of glorious on-court achievements or personal accomplishments in Bobby Jones’ speech Friday night as he was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Jones thanked plenty of people who made his induction possible, from his parents to his teammates to his coaches. Though quite kind, that wasn’t especially unique.
One of the groups Jones thanked, however, isn’t typically included in a Hall of Fame speech.
“The NBA refs who called my games called 2,500 fouls on me during my career,” Jones said with a smile. “Their integrity and willingness to communicate to players about why a certain call was made is greatly appreciated. … Men who called them like they saw ‘em — sometimes in my favor, sometimes not.”
Jones, an 11-time All-Defensive Team selection, is the 17th Sixers player in the Hall of Fame. He was flanked by two others Friday night, Charles Barkley and Julius Erving. They were “coming off the bench,” Jones explained, since his presenters David Thompson and Billy Cunningham could not be in Springfield, Massachusetts. Jones asked that those in attendance pray for Thompson, a teammate of Jones’ during his time with the Denver Nuggets who he said is dealing with health problems, and think of Cunningham, another Sixers Hall of Fame player and Jones’ coach for seven seasons. Jones said Cunningham is coping with the impact of Hurricane Dorian.
Jones, Cunningham and Erving made three NBA Finals appearances together, winning the Sixers’ last championship in 1982-83. Jones wasn’t renowned for his scoring — he averaged 10.7 points per game with the Sixers — but he developed a reputation as a defensive stalwart and consummate winner. He recalled Friday when he learned that he’d need to develop other qualities besides scoring.
I remember coming home one night and I told my mom I had a big scoring game. Her response was, ‘Bobby, that’s really good, but I once scored 48 in a high school game.’ I guess not being the leading scorer in the family helped me understand that there are other ways to impact a game.
The inaugural winner of the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award in that 1982-83 season, Jones didn’t choose to dwell on beating the Lakers in those Finals or gloat over the stars he shut down on defense. Instead, he preferred the moments out of the spotlight.
“My finest memories as a Sixer were the many bus rides in D.C., New York and New Jersey," he said, "and talking with Clint [Richardson], Doug [Collins], Darryl [Dawkins] and Jeff Millman, our equipment manager and friend to all.”
You can watch Jones’ full speech here.
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