BAR HARBOR — A basketball legend all throughout New England, K.C. Jones was no stranger to folks on Mount Desert Island.
Jones, who won eight NBA championships as a Boston Celtics player and two as the team’s head coach, was a frequenter of MDI and a longtime friend to many on the island. The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer passed away on Christmas Day at the age of 88.
“K.C. had many close friendships that brought him here,” said Andy Shea of Acadian Youth Sports. “He was wonderful to work with and incredibly friendly and giving as a human being.”
Those friendships included Skip Chappelle, longtime men’s basketball coach at the University of Maine, and David Paine, owner of Jordan’s Restaurant. He was also friends with area dentist and golf aficionado Doc Norton, with whom he shared many memories on the greens at Kebo Valley Golf Club.
Golf became one of Jones’ key connections to the MDI area. The Boston great was a fairly regular fixture at Kebo, where the Celtics held a major team event in the 1980s and where he would later appear in fundraiser tournaments for the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame.
“K.C. had many friends here at Kebo,” said Kebo club professional Peiter DeVos. “We were very fortunate to have him at Kebo through the years.”
Jones contributed to the MDI community through basketball with yearly clinics for players between third and eighth grade. His annual K.C. Jones Basketball Camps later morphed into the AYS-led Future Trojans Basketball Camps led by MDI head varsity coaches Justin Norwood and
Jones also showcased his memorabilia to younger players, whom he told stories of his playing and coaching days at the Boston Garden and with the 1956 United States Olympic team. He also helped raise money for local sports organizations through an auction of his memorabilia.
“He never got paid; he came here just wanting to help,” said Shea, who was instrumental in bringing Jones’ camps to the MDI area. “We had a good combination of coaches between K.C., Skip and the local high school coaches. It was a good arrangement.”
Jones’ other trips to Maine included journeys to the Aroostook County communities of Fort Fairfield and Houlton in the 1980s. He made the ceremonial announcement of the Maine Red Claws as the newest addition to the NBA Developmental League (now G League) in Portland in 2009.