Red Auerbach on K.C. Jones: ‘He didn’t come to play, he came to win’

Boston Celtics Hall of Famer K.C. Jones. Photo: PUBLIC DOMAIN

K.C. Jones is one of the most prolific winners in NBA history.

During his long association with the Boston Celtics he played on eight NBA championship teams, served as an assistant coach on another title-winning team in 1981, then guided the Celtics to championships in 1984 and 1986. He also collected a championship ring as a Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach in 1972.

Thirty years ago, Jones was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player. You could make a valid argument that he also belongs in the Hall of Fame as a head coach. In addition to the two aforementioned championships, Jones, now 87, compiled a 522-252 regular-season coaching record. In his nine full seasons as a head coach, his teams (Bullets, Celtics and SuperSonics) had eight winning seasons.

What about in that other campaign? Seattle finished 41-41.

In addition, Jones’ Bullets lost the 1975 NBA Finals. He later steered the Celtics to four NBA Finals appearances in the 1980s. In his five seasons at the helm in Boston, the Celtics won 57 or more games each year.

Introducing Jones before his Hall of Fame enshrinement speech, Celtics patriarch and legendary coach Red Auerbach said, “He didn’t come to play, he came to win.”

Auerbach also used humor to highlight how the Boston point guard worked on his game to become a better player.

“I remember when he joined us it was a moral victory from 16 feet if he hit the rim,” Auerbach said of the University of San Francisco product. “He couldn’t shoot the ball.

“But yet he was a winner and he worked on his game until he became a pretty fast shooter.”

Jones on Auerbach

In a speech filled with humility and gratitude for his family, friends and former teammates and a life of achievement, Jones called Auerbach “a genius of all genius coaches.”

Reflecting on the honor of being selected for the Hall of Fame, K.C. Jones said he was entering “a very special fraternity of achievers.”

In 2012, the University of San Francisco legend was also inducted into the West Coast Conference Hall of Fame.