Basketball Hall of Famer KC Jones, who won eight NBA championships as a Celtics player in the 1960s and two more as the coach of the Boston teams that took the title in 1984 and '86, has died. He was 88.
The Celtics said Jones' family confirmed Friday he had died at an assistant living facility in Connecticut, where he had been receiving care for Alzheimer's disease for the past several years.
Jones joined with Bill Russell to lead San Francisco to back-to-back NCAA championships in 1955-56.
The two also played on the US team that won the Olympic gold medal at the 1956 Games in Melbourne.
A second-round draft choice by the Celtics, Jones reunited with Russell to win eight straight NBA titles from 1959-66.
Jones 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 KC 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 retired in 1967 and began coaching, first in college at Brandeis and Harvard before joining the Los Angeles Lakers as an assistant, in 1971-72, where he earned another championship ring.
He was an assistant coach on the Celtics team that won it all in 1981 before guiding the team led by Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish to the 1984 and '86 championships.
"KC 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."
Australian Associated Press