The Celtics entered the 2022 NBA playoffs with a chance to add to the franchise’s storied history. Boston would love nothing more than to break the tie with the Lakers at the top of the list for most NBA championships, and this group has the talent, the training and the chemistry to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy. .
Of course, these Celtics wouldn’t be in this position without the immense contributions of the teams of the 1950s and 1960s. Led by Bill Russell, Boston won 11 championships in 13 seasons, including eight consecutive titles from 1958 to 1966.
Sam Jones was a key member of this Celtics dynasty, as he won 10 championship rings during his Hall of Fame career. His No. 24 jersey hangs in the rafters at TD Garden – and it now features on Boston’s current uniforms.
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Why do the Celtics wear the #24 crest on their jerseys?
Jones died on December 30, 2021. He was 88 years old.
The Celtics decided to honor Jones by adding a black patch to their jerseys with his number 24. They also held a moment of silence for Jones ahead of their Dec. 31 game against the Suns.
Celtics hold minute’s silence for legendary Boston Celtics goaltender Sam Jones, who died at 88 pic.twitter.com/qi1ONavL33
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) December 31, 2021
This isn’t the first time Boston has altered its uniforms to honor a former player. After the death of John Havlicek in April 2019, the Celtics unveiled a black patch with his number 17.
—Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 27, 2019
Sam Jones’ legacy with the Celtics
The Celtics selected Jones with the No. 8 pick in the 1957 NBA draft just days after the franchise won its first championship. He then enjoyed a fantastic 12-season career in Boston, earning five All-Star selections and accumulating 10 titles, the second-highest mark for a player in NBA history behind Russell.
Jones was a terrific shooter and led the Celtics in scoring five times, averaging 25.9 career points during the 1964-65 season. He had arguably the best bank shot the league had ever seen, and his pulling game was ahead of its time.
But it wasn’t just how Jones scored his points – it was when he scored them. Jones was one of the greatest clutch players of all time, delivering time and time again for the Celtics and never losing a Game 7 of an NBA Playoff series (9-0).
“If you had to choose one person to take the last shot of the match, it would be Sam Jones.” pic.twitter.com/PyazIjKJ0l
—Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 28, 2022
In his autobiography “Second Wind”, Russell wrote that “whenever the pressure was greatest, Sam was eager to get the ball”. He praised Jones for his “champion’s heart” and his ability to step in when the team needed him most.
“You would think he was squeezed out of his last drop of strength and cunning, but if you looked closely you would see him coming up with something else he had been hiding,” Russell wrote. “Although sometimes he did things that made me want to break him in two, his presence gave me great comfort in key games.
“In Los Angeles, Jerry West was called ‘Mr. Clutch’ and he was, but in Game 7 of a championship series, I’ll take Sam over any player who’s ever stepped on a court. “
The Celtics retired Jones’ No. 24 jersey in 1969. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984 and named a member of the NBA’s 50th and 75th Anniversary teams.