PORTLAND, Ore. – Steve “Snapper” Jones, former Portland Trail Blazers player, team announcer and later NBA broadcaster, has passed away in Houston at age 75. Family members and friends confirmed Jones’ death this evening following a lengthy illness. Funeral services will be announced soon by the Jones family.
Jones played 64 games in a Trail Blazers uniform during the 1975-76 season, averaging 6.5 points per game in what would be his final year as a player. He was acquired by the Trail Blazers in October of 1975 for a sixth-round draft pick from the Golden State Warriors. The bulk of his pro career was spent in the American Basketball Association (ABA) where Jones was a three-time ABA All-Star and played for five franchises, including the San Antonio Spurs and Denver Rockets (now Nuggets) – both now teams in the NBA. His nine-year ABA/NBA pro career spanned 704 games, with an impressive 15.2 points per game average.
In more recent years, Jones carved a successful career as an NBA broadcaster, including providing color commentary for CBS Television when the Trail Blazers defeated the Philadelphia 76ers to win the 1977 NBA Championship. His broadcasting resume included work for ESPN/ABC, TBS, TNT, Fox Sports Net, USA Network and NBC, where he was an analyst for the “NBA on NBC” for more than a decade. Jones was also part of numerous Trail Blazers broadcasting tandems, including Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame honoree Bill Schonely.
“Steve was as positive and good-natured a broadcasting partner as I could have had,” said Schonely of Jones, who would be a broadcasting fixture with the Trail Blazers for 26 years. “He loved to call me ‘Pops’ as a nickname, and we worked very well together on Trail Blazers games during some of the early years of the franchise. He was a terrific guy.”
In March 2012, Jones was honored at center court of the then Rose Garden arena (now Moda Center) by the Trail Blazers for his years of service to the franchise as a player and broadcaster. Among his Trail Blazers broadcasting partners along with Schonely were Pat Lafferty, Pete Pranica, Mike Rice and Mike Barrett. Jones moved to Houston in 2008 where he resided until his death.
As a collegiate player, Jones played for the University of Oregon from 1961-64, leading the team in scoring during the 1963-64 season. Born in Alexandria, Louisiana, but raised in Portland, Jones was a standout player locally at Franklin High School, leading his squad to an Oregon state championship in 1959. His younger brother Nick Jones, also a highly-touted player at Franklin and later Oregon, played for the Golden State Warriors and was a member of the Trail Blazers Community Relations staff for several years.