North Carolina legend and NBA champion Bobby Jones has been a selected as a member of the 2019 class for Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. After falling short after being named a finalist on four previous occasions, Jones will officially be the 12th former Tar Heel to be inducted. It is the second consecutive year UNC will have a representative, following Charlie Scott’s induction last season. We first saw the news from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Bobby Jones has been selected for enshrinement into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2019, sources tell ESPN. As a forward, he was NBA All-Defensive first-team eight times with the 76ers, and twice ABA All-Defensive first-team. Formal announcement on Saturday.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 6, 2019
Jones played for North Carolina from 1971-74 (before freshmen were allowed to play). In his sophomore season, he averaged 10.2 points and 6.3 rebounds as the Heels made the Final Four for the fourth time under Dean Smith. They ultimately fell to Florida State 79-75. As a junior, he averaged a double-double with 15.5 ppg and 10.5 rpg, and followed up that with a senior campaign of 16.1 ppg and 9.8 rpg. He was a consensus second-team All-American in his final season.
At UNC, Jones was also part of two the most memorable games in the program’s illustrious history. In 1974 it was Jones who stole the ball in a tie game on the road against Duke. He promptly hit the ensuing layup at the buzzer and continued to run into the tunnel as the buzzer sounded. Later that year, on his Senior Night, he was part of the famous “8 points in 17 seconds” comeback, also against the Blue Devils. Jones scored four of those miraculous eight points. For your viewing pleasure, because this never gets old:
While in school, Jones was selected to the 1972 Olympic team. That team is known for losing to the Soviet Union in the gold medal game, after the referees awarded three attempts to the Soviets to score on their final possession. To this day, the members of that U.S. team has refused to accept their silver medals.
His collegiate efforts led to him being drafted by the Houston Rockets with the 5th overall pick in the 1974 NBA Draft, but fellow Tar Heel Larry Brown was coaching the Denver Nuggets in the ABA and wanted Jones to play for him. As a result, Jones began his professional career out west in the ABA after an agreement was reached between the Rockets and Nuggets. He made the ABA All-Rookie team (74-75) and followed that up with an appearance in the ABA All-Star game and was selected to the All-ABA Second Team (75-76).
Once the ABA folded, Jones transitioned to the NBA where he continued to be recognized for his all-around game. Among his career accolades:
- Olympic Silver Medal (1972)
- NCAA consensus Second Team All-American (1974)
- ABA All-Rookie First Team (1975)
- 2-time ABA All-Defensive First Team (1975-76)
- All-ABA Second Team (1976)
- ABA All-Star (1976)
- 4-time NBA All-Star (1977-78, 1981-82)
- 8-time NBA All-Defensive First-Team (1977-83)
- NBA All-Defensive Second-Team (1985)
- First ever NBA Sixth-Man Award (1983)
- NBA Champion (1983)
Jones played 12 seasons, only spending time with the Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers. He won his lone NBA championship with the 76ers in 1983. That team was coached by fellow Tar Heel and 1986 Hall of Fame inductee, Billy Cunningham. Bobby Jones’ teams made the playoffs in all 12 years of his professional career.
For his career, Jones averaged a rather pedestrian 12.1 points and 6.2 rebounds, which partially explains the long wait for induction. Instead, Jones was known as one of the greatest defensive players of his era. Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer did the heavy lifting in this profile earlier in the week, examining Jones’ place in NBA history and the respect he garnered for his two-way play. Any fan of North Carolina or basketball should read it immediately.
As in most cases when discussing defense, it’s hard to explain exactly how good a player was. So, enjoy this video from his NBA days. He was clearly revered by his contemporaries. That fact is backed up in this piece from December, where former teammates provide glowing memories of Jones’ abilities.
Jones’ selection will be announced tonight during the Final Four in Minneapolis. He will join 11 other Tar Heels in the Springfield, Massachusetts museum; Ben Carnevale, Frank McGuire, Dean Smith, Billy Cunningham, Bob McAdoo, Larry Brown, James Worthy, Roy Williams, Sylvia Hatchell, Michael Jordan, and Charlie Scott with the honor. With seven former players on that list, North Carolina now has the largest player representation of any school in the Hall of Fame (though, technically, Larry Brown was inducted as a coach). UCLA also has six former players who have been enshrined.