Sam Jones's claim to fame was his bank shot. By all accounts, no player ever used the backboard better than Jones, who averaged 17.7 points and won 10 championships in a dozen seasons with the Boston Celtics.
One of the NBA's first "big" guards, the 6'4" Jones moved easily, gliding to openings on the court for his signature shot or for long two-handed set shots. He also liked to take smaller players inside and shoot hook shots over them. He wasn't flashy, but he was coldly efficient and one of the best clutch players in NBA history.
Born June 24, 1933, in Wilmington, North Carolina, Jones grew up in the segregated South. At North Carolina Central College, an all-black school, he averaged 17.7 points over a six-year period (he served two years in the Army between his junior and senior seasons). He was discovered at Central by Bones McKinney, a former Celtic, who recommended Jones to Boston coach Red Auerbach. When the Celtics drafted Jones in 1957, some NBA scouts knew nothing about him.
Jones spent his early years in Boston on the bench, learning from starters Bill Sharman and Bob Cousy. Next to Jones on the pine was another young guard, K.C. Jones. In 1961-62, the "Jones Boys" moved into the lineup together and the Celtics continued along their merry way, winning five championships in a row.
Sam Jones scored steadily, with a peak of 25.9 points a game in 19641965, and made his mark in the playoffs. He kayoed the Philadelphia Warriors with a last-second basket in Game 7 of the 1962 Eastern Division finals, scored 37 points against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of the 1965 Eastern finals, hit his career high of 51 points against New York in a playoff game in 1967, and dropped in the winning points against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 4 of the 1969 NBA Finals.
In 1970, a year after his retirement, he was named to the NBA's Silver Anniversary Team. Sam Jones joined the Hall of Fame in 1983.