The Celtics entered the 2022 NBA Playoffs with a chance to add to the franchise’s rich history. Boston would love nothing more than to break the tie with the Lakers atop the list for most NBA championships, and this group possesses the talent, coaching and chemistry to capture the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Of course, these Celtics wouldn’t be in that position without the immense contributions of the teams from 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 that Celtics dynasty, as he took home 10 championship rings during his Hall of Fame career. His No. 24 jersey is hanging in the TD Garden rafters — and now it’s featured on Boston’s current uniforms.
Why are the Celtics wearing the No. 24 patch on their jerseys?
Jones died on Dec. 30, 2021. He was 88 years old.
The Celtics decided to honor Jones by adding a black patch to their jerseys with his No. 24. They also held a moment of silence for Jones before their Dec. 31 game against the Suns.
The Celtics hold a moment of silence for legendary Boston Celtics guard Sam Jones who passed at 88 pic.twitter.com/qi1ONavL33— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) December 31, 2021
This isn’t the first time Boston has modified its uniforms to pay tribute to a former player. Following John Havlicek’s death in April 2019, the Celtics unveiled a black patch featuring his No. 17.
Sam Jones' legacy with the Celtics
The Celtics selected Jones with the No. 8 pick in the 1957 NBA Draft only days after the franchise won its first championship. He went on to enjoy a fantastic 12-season career in Boston, earning five All-Star selections and racking up 10 titles, the second-highest mark for a player in NBA history behind only Russell.
Jones was a tremendous shooter and led the Celtics in scoring five times, averaging a career-high 25.9 points during the 1964-65 season. He had arguably the best bank shot the league has ever seen, and his pull-up 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 best clutch players of all time, delivering again and again for the Celtics and never losing a Game 7 of an NBA Playoff series (9-0).
"If you had to pick one person to shoot the last shot of the game, 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 the greatest, Sam was eager for the ball.” He praised Jones for his “champion’s heart” and ability to step up when the team needed him most.
“You could think he’d been squeezed out of his last drop of strength and cunning, but if you looked closely, you’d see him coming with something else he’d tucked away out of sight,” Russell wrote. “Though sometimes he’d do 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 the seventh game of a championship series, I’ll take Sam over any player who’s ever walked 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 both the NBA’s 50th and 75th Anniversary Teams.