PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — At the 76ers Training Complex in Camden, another legendary player is memorialized.
Bobby Jones won the first-ever NBA Sixth-Man of the Year award, helping the 76ers win the NBA Title in 1983. The sculpture depicts him in action, with his arm extended trying to reach the basketball.
“I remember so many times diving, and trying to get the ball just like that,” Jones recalled.
He of course had the skills to start, but his game was better served coming off the bench.
“It’s sort of horizontal, trying to dive to touch it with my hand, to save it back inbounds,” he said.
Current 76ers coach Brett Brown summed up what everyone else says about Bobby Jones: he is as gracious as any person on the planet.
“The thing that stood out to me is your humility and your grace,” Brown said.
But a throwback Jones was, quiet and reserved off the court, transformed on it to sacrifice his body and provide inspired defense.
The ceremony had some humorous vignettes, especially from a former close teammate, Clint Richardson.
If Jones was the sixth man, Richardson was the seventh, and they had a pact to pass to each other. Otherwise, Richardson says the ball would disappear on offense.
“It was called the ‘black hole,’ especially with Moses Malone in there. Once it went in there, it was not coming back out. And Andrew Toney was capable of shooting a half court shot at anytime,” said Richardson.
Also, Richardson and Jones sat at the end of the bench, to avoid the drama with Coach Billy Cunningham.
“Billy had two moods at that time, mad and madder,” Richardson recalled.
The Jones sculpture joins others featuring Mo Cheeks, Hal Greer, Billy Cunningham, and Wilt Chamberlain, who are also immortalized at the complex.
In eight seasons with the club, Jones was named to eight straight NBA All-Defensive first teams from 1977-84. He was a four-time NBA All-Star.
His number 24 was retired by the 76ers in 1986.