Bill Russell Chooses Former Celtics Teammate as Ultimate Playoff Performer

Exploring the legacy of an NBA legend's decisive moments.

by Nouman Rasool
Bill Russell Chooses Former Celtics Teammate as Ultimate Playoff Performer
© Mansoor Ahmed/Getty Images

In the annals of NBA history, the discussion around who shines brightest in the crucible of playoff pressure is often filled with a pantheon of legendary figures. Yet, when NBA luminary Bill Russell was tasked with identifying the paramount performer for those definitive moments, his verdict was unequivocal.

The luminary in question? His former Boston Celtics comrade, Sam Jones. As Russell disclosed in his memoir, "Second Wind," the confidence Jones instilled in him during high-stakes matchups was unparalleled. "In the deciding game of a championship series, Sam is my choice above all others to take to the court," Russell asserted.

Jones, often an unsung architect of the Celtics' supremacy through the 1960s, contributed significantly to an era marked by the brilliance of Hall of Famers such as Russell, head coach Red Auerbach, Bob Cousy, and John Havlicek.

Russell's high praise of Jones underlines the guard's clutch capabilities, which earned him the league-wide moniker 'Mr. Clutch,' paralleling Lakers' Jerry West. Jones' 12-year tenure with the Celtics was distinguished by his mental fortitude and on-court prowess, qualities that Red Auerbach prized for their singular focus on victory.

Jones: Clutch and Resilient

Jones' clutch credentials were not merely a byproduct of his physical talents but were also a testament to his psychological resilience. A versatile guard, Jones excelled as both a rebounder and defender, his athletic prowess complementing a lethal offensive game marked by a signature bank shot that earned him the nickname 'The Shooter.'

Leading the Celtics in scoring for three seasons, his performance was often above league average, securing him All-NBA second team honors thrice and five All-Star selections. One of Jones' defining moments came in the 1962 NBA Finals against the Lakers, where his last-second jump shot sealed the victory for the Celtics, showcasing his unrivaled clutch ability.

This moment, among others, cements Jones' legacy as a clutch player par excellence. Sam Jones, who left us in 2021, remains the second-most decorated player in NBA history, trailing only Russell in championship rings. His legacy is a beacon for aspiring athletes, epitomizing the blend of talent, tenacity, and team spirit that defines true sporting greatness.