Bobby Jones never averaged more than 15 points per game. He was never a double-digit rebounder. Despite his reputation as an outstanding defender, which earned him eight NBA All-Defensive First-Team honors, Jones never led the league in steals or blocked shots.
Yet the 6-foot-9 North Carolinian inspired as many memorable quotes as other more legendary players, because while there have been other hard-nosed defenders in the history of the NBA, few possessed as much class.
“If I have to play defense by holding on, that’s when I quit,” said Jones, who was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers from the Denver Nuggets 34 years ago Wednesday.
Here is a sampling of some other ways Jones was described over the years:
• “Watching Bobby Jones on the basketball court is like watching an honest man in a liars’ poker game.”
— Larry Brown, former ABA/NBA coach
• “He has a rare ability to divorce himself from the games after they end. He is a man at peace with himself. It’s what I term ‘internal affirmation.’ And in Bobby, it’s strong.”
— Dean Smith, former North Carolina coach
• “Bobby Jones gives you two hours of his blood, showers and goes home. If I was going to ask a youngster to model after someone, I would pick Bobby Jones.”
— Pat Williams, former Sixers general manager
How rigidly did Jones adhere to his squeaky-clean principles? When he received an award and a cash prize from Seagram’s in 1977, Jones, who did not drink, donated the $10,000 to charity. Check out some highlights of Jones’ career in the video below.