Sam Jones - #24 - Boston Celtics
Guard-Forward | 6'4" | 205 lbs. | Born: June 24, 1933
- Ten-time NBA champion
- Named to NBA's 25th anniversary team
- Named to NBA's 50th anniversary team
- No. 24 retired by Celtics
- Five-Time NBA All-Star
- Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984
Drafted eighth overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1957 NBA Draft.
Sam Jones - Biography
Only one player in NBA history has won more championships than the legendary Sam Jones. That player happens to be his former teammate, Bill Russell.
Jones and Russell paired up to become one of the greatest tandems in sports history. The only reason Russell has one more title than Jones is because Jones arrived in the league one year later.
Boston selected Jones with the eighth overall pick in the 1957 NBA Draft. The pick was made just four days after the Celtics won Game 7 of the NBA Finals in thrilling fashion, downing the St. Louis Hawks 125-123 in double overtime.
Jones joined the Celtics after a phenomenal collegiate career at North Carolina Central University. The Wilmington, North Carolina native chose to stay local for his college days and play under Hall of Fame coach John McLendon. That wound up being a terrific decision, as Jones starred for McLendon for four seasons. He made three All-Conference teams and scored 1,770 points during college.
Legend has it that the head honcho in Boston, Red Auerbach, never actually watched Jones play in person before drafting him in 1957. Instead, he went against his typical stance of drafting only players who he had seen play in person on several occasions.
The selection of Jones shocked everyone, including Jones himself. The guard believed that his selection to the Celtics would end his career, as he didn’t believe he was good enough to make the World Championship team after playing at a small college.
“I never felt so miserable in my life when I got the news,” Jones was quoted as saying. “I really thought it was the end of my basketball career. Sure, I was thrilled with the honor… I never thought I’d be able to break into the game, let alone into the lineup.”
Truth be told, he’d break into the lineup eventually, and in a big way.
Jones played a very limited role in his rookie season as Auerbach eased the young shooting guard into his NBA career. His averages of only 4.6 points per game and 10.6 minutes per game were modest at best.
The nest season is when Jones’ ascension began. His playing time nearly doubled, while his scoring more than doubled up to 10.7 PPG. That 1958-59 season wound up being the first of 11 consecutive seasons in which Jones scored at least 10.7 PPG.
Jones continued to improve as the years went on and as such, his role increased as well. He became one of the top shooting guards in the league and maxed out with 25.9 PPG in 1964-65. He was a key cog in every championship team he was a member of, as he scored at least 20.6 PPG in seven of his 12 postseasons.
Those impressive postseasons helped him earn the nickname “Mr. Clutch.” When the Celtics needed a clutch bucket, Jones was almost always there to provide it. His most notable clutch moments arrived in 1961-62, when his basket over Wilt Chamberlain propelled the Celtics to the Finals. Jones then scored five of Boston’s 10 points in overtime of Game 7 against the Lakers to help the team capture its fourth straight title.
Jones was known most for two things: his bank shot and his movement. He mastered the use of the glass and capitalized on that skill very often. He also refused to stand still on the floor. Jones was always moving, and, interestingly enough, that was one of the traits that caught Auerbach’s eye during Jones’ very first training camp with the team.
Jones’ 12-year career with the Celtics included 15,411 points, 4,305 rebounds and 2,209 assists. He still ranks seventh on the team’s all-time scoring list. The Celtics honored him by retiring his No. 24 jersey on March 9, 1969, before a game in which he played and scored 16 points. Boston defeated the San Francisco Warriors by 49 points during that contest.
Honors for Jones did not end within Boston’s organization. The league took notice of his stellar career as well. Jones was selected to four NBA All-Star games and was named to the NBA’s 25th and 50th Anniversary Teams. He was enshrined into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame with the class of 1984.
What a story for No. 24. Jones was a small town, North Carolina boy who grew into one of the greatest champions in sports history. He was skeptical of how his career would unfold with the Celtics, but in hindsight, his pairing with Russell and Boston was meant to be.
Height: 6'4" Weight: 205 LBS Birth: 06/24/33 College: NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL '57
First round draft choice (the 8th pick overall) in 1957... retired in 1969.