Hall of Famer Sam Jones Passes Away at 88

Sam Jones Shaped the Future of basketball

Samuel Jones (June 24, 1933 – December 30, 2021), better known as Sam Jones of Wilmington, North Carolina, attended the Laurinburg Institute, North Carolina Central University, before being the 1st round and 8th overall pick selected by the Boston Celtics. The Hall of Famer, HBCU, and NBA star passed away on a Thursday night in Boca Raton, Florida, at the of age 88. He’d been in poor health this year, finally being forced to give up golf, a game he loved playing — and playing well — into his mid-80s.

He grew up in the Jim Crow South, playing high school ball in a tiny gym that was heated by stoves at each end of the court. He was recruited almost exclusively by Historically Black Colleges and Universities because the so-called big-time schools in the South weren’t recruiting Black athletes when he graduated from high school in 1951. —Per Washington Post

HBCU – North Carolina Central University (formerly North Carolina College for Negroes)

During his 4-year career at North Carolina Central University, he was a 4-year letter winner under Hall of Fame Head Coach John McLendon, scored a total of 1,745 points (668 made field goals and 409 made free throws), and averaged 17.81 points per game. Sam Jones was enshrined into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on April 30th, 1984.

“I had a lot of pressure put on me,” Jones told The Boston Globe in 2009. “We didn’t have scouts coming in to see what the Black colleges were doing. If I make good, they’re going to start looking into the Black colleges.” 

Celtics Career

Sam Jones averaged 17.7 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 2.5 throughout his career. Some of his best seasons statistically were 1964-65, 1965-66, and 1966-67. During the Celtics 1964-65 season, Jones played in 80 games, averaged a high of 25.9 points per game, and shot around 45%. The next season, Jones played in 67 games, averaged 23.5 points per game, and shot around 47%. During the Celtics 1966-67 season, Jones played in 72 games, averaged 22.1 points per game, and shot around 45%.

“Jones was known for his clutch shooting, especially in the postseason, where he averaged 28.9 points, which is slightly above his career average,” — Per NBA Media Ventures. From the 1961-68 seasons, the Celtics won 6 out of 7 National Championships and Jones ranked 4th in the NBA in scoring with an average of 28.6 points per game.

BOSTON – 1968: Sam Jones #24 of the Boston Celtics poses for a portrait in 1968 at the Boston Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Jones started his consecutive three-year All-NBA second-team stint as well having four consecutive seasons averaged 20 points or better.

” The most important number in Jones’ career was 10. Jones helped the Celtics win 10 championships in his 12 seasons with the franchise.”

Sam Jones retired after his 12-year NBA career, which included 5 All-Star Game appearances, a single-game scoring record of 51 points (later broken by Jayson Tatum), and 3 NBA-Anniversary Teams. Before college, Jones had a dream of becoming a teacher and he reached that goal after he retired and began substitute teaching in the Montgomery County public school system throughout his 30-year residency in the city of Silver Spring.

What they say about Sam Jones

“Sam Jones was one of the most talented, versatile, and clutch shooters for the most successful and dominant teams in NBA history,” – Celtics 

‘Your dad, Wilt, and I were friends. We’d go out and eat like best buddies, but on the court we wanted to kill each other, because that’s how we rolled.’ – Bryna Jones, the daughter of Celtics legend K.C. Jones, told the Boston Globe Sam Jones said this to her recently about his fight with Lakers great Wilt Chamberlain during the 1962 Eastern Division finals.

“Another one of my dear friends lost,” Celtics broadcaster Cedric Maxwell wrote on Twitter. “Well, the banks are open in heaven this #NYE.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Jones will be remembered as “one of the most prolific champions in all of professional sports.” “His selfless style, clutch performances and signature bank shot were hallmarks of an incredible career,” Silver said. “Sam was a beloved teammate and respected competitor who played the game with dignity and class. We mourn the passing of a basketball giant and send our deepest condolences to Sam’s family and the Celtics organization.”

“You look at the championships and what he did, it’s obviously a big loss for the community here,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka

Our Condolences go out to the Jones friends and Family as well to the Boston Celtics community.

Obituary: Sam Jones obituary: Boston Celtics legend dies at 88 – Legacy.com

Ten Times a Champion: The Story of Basketball Legend Sam Jones: Ten Times a Champion: The Story of Basketball Legend Sam Jones: Bodanza, Mark C.: 9781491785249: Amazon.com: Books