(Reuters) – K.C. Jones, one of the most dominant forces in basketball history who won eight NBA championships as a player and four as a coach, died on Friday. He was 88.
In NBA history, only his Boston Celtics teammates Bill Russell and Sam Jones have more championship rings during their playing careers.
Jones, a playmaking guard and defensive specialist, is one of only seven players to achieve basketball’s “Triple Crown” – winning an NCAA championship, an NBA championship and an Olympic gold medal.
The Taylor, Texas, native was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989 and his number 25 has hung from the rafters at Boston’s TD Garden since 1967.
“I just received a call letting me know my x-roommate/teammate and most of all friend, the great K.C. Jones, passed this morning,” Russell wrote on Twitter next to a photo of the pair smiling around a table.
“Prayers to his family. We have been friends for almost 60 years, this our last photo together. Friends for life.”
Jones won 11 of this 12 NBA titles with the Celtics, which said he remained humble despite his staggering on-court success.
“K.C. demonstrated that one could be both a fierce competitor and a gentleman in every sense of the word,” the Celtics said in a statement.
“He made his teammates better, and he got the most out of the players he coached. Never one to seek credit, his glory was found in the most fundamental of basketball ideals – being part of a winning team.
“The Celtics family mourns his loss, as we celebrate his remarkable career and life.”
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by Dan Grebler)