Bobby Jones - The Gentleman of the NBA

2008-09 News and Features

Bobby Jones - The Gentleman of the NBA

On November 7, 1986, Bobby Jones’s No. 24 was retired in the Wachovia Spectrum. Earning eight consecutive spots on the All-Defensive Team, Bobby Jones was one of the best defenders to ever play the game of basketball. He was always hustling on defense, diving for loose balls, and blocked shot after shot.

Bobby Jones joined a team of NBA All-Stars including Julius Erving, Darryl Dawkins, and Caldwell Jones in 1978. Because of the Sixers talented starting line up, Head Coach Billy Cunningham put Jones in the same spot he himself had during the 1976 season; the sixth man. Even though Jones played the part of the sixth man, he still managed to play 25 minutes per game and score 10-15 points in that time.

Bobby was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. Although his father and brother were very talented basketball players, Bobby did not really enjoy basketball. He was forced to play as a child on his church's league team. Even though he was not interested in the game, he still gave his all. He stated, “In the Bible, it says we're supposed to give 100% in whatever it is we do--and that's what I do." Because of this, when he did get into the game, he tried his best and concentrated on defense. His strong focus on defense stuck with him for the rest of his ball playing career.

In high school, Jones discovered a love for track and field. Although he was very talented in the high jump, his father pushed him onto the court. By his senior year of High School, Jones accepted a basketball scholarship from the University of North Carolina. Though he did not enjoy the sport as much as track, he accepted the scholarship in order to receive a free college education. He excelled at UNC and after his sophomore year, his coach, (Dean Smith), encouraged him to try out for the 1972 Olympic team. He not only earned a spot on the team, but he played five minutes of the historic game against the Soviet Union when the U.S. lost the gold medal.

After finishing his psychology degree in 1974, Jones was drafted into the American Basketball League (ABA) by the Denver Nuggets. Following the merge of the ABA and NBA, Jones stayed with Nuggets one more season before he was then traded to Billy Cunningham, (a fellow UNC alum), and the Philadelphia 76ers for the 1978-79 season.

Jones was best known for his skills that did not make the box scores. He excelled in his movement without the ball, his passing ability, and his dynamic rebounding and blocking skills. Bobby rarely took a shot. Maurice Cheeks recalls, "You had to make him take a shot. I remember Billy (Cunningham) telling him, 'Bobby, you've got to shoot the ball. You have to do those things.' "

He was not only one of the best defensive players in the NBA, he was also one of the most hard-working, selfless, and humble players to ever grace the hardwood due to his work ethic and deeply in stowed Christian beliefs. Teammate Julius Erving said, "He's a player who's totally selfless, who runs like a deer, jumps like a gazelle, plays with his head and heart each night, then walks away from the court as if nothing happened."

Tickets for the Sixers Remember the Spectrum game start as low as $19.67 (the year the Spectrum opened) and are on sale now exclusively through ComcastTIX at 1-800-298-4200, or in person at the Wachovia Complex box office.