BOSTON – Basketball Hall of Famer Sam Jones, the top scorer with 10 NBA titles just behind Boston Celtics teammate Bill Russell, has died, the team announced. He was 88 years old.
Jones died Thursday night in Florida, where he had been hospitalized with failing health, Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss said. The team has scheduled a minute of silence before Friday’s game against the Phoenix Suns.
“Another dear friend of mine lost,” Celtics broadcaster Cedric Maxwell wrote on Twitter. “Well the banks are open in Heaven this #NYE.”
A native of North Carolina, Jones played for Hall of Fame coach John McLendon at North Carolina Central before Celtics general manager Red Auerbach selected him eighth overall in the 1957 draft despite his had never seen him play.
He went on to average 17.7 points and just under five rebounds in 12 years, winning eight straight titles from 1959 to 1966.
“You watch the championships and what he’s done is obviously a big loss for the community here,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said ahead of Friday’s game.