№33: K.C. Jones Player Spotlight | This Week’s Comic Book Haul | Funko! Mystery Minis: Rick and Morty [Series 3] and The Suicide Squad (2021) Part IV | Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (2021)

August 29, 2021

Welcome to the tedi.substack.com weekly newsletter! At the end of each week1, this newsletter will touch on any number of entertaining, informative, or (possibly) useful topics.

This week’s Player’s Spotlight is a deep dive into the playing and coaching career of the late K.C. Jones (†). Other sections this week include my latest Comic Book Haul, Funko! Mystery Minis Rick and Morty [Series 3] and The Suicide Squad (2021), and a few thoughts on Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (2021).

More after the section jump.


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The concept behind my Player Spotlight segment was inspired by the writings of the late Zander Hollander (Sportswriter, archivist, and author of the ever informative The Complete Handbook of Pro Basketball) wherein he would write short and insightful entries on—then 20 something—NBA teams and their players for that particular season. With over 30 years of basketball knowledge under my belt, I decided to come up with my own short, free flowing, and non-linear/viewpoint narrative on a featured player. 

K.C. Jones

Born K.C. Jones (†) (May 25, 1932 – December 25, 2020) in Taylor, Texas. Named after his father2, the younger K.C. moved to San Francisco, California at the age of 9 after his parent’s divorce. Jones would go on to play high school basketball and football at nearby Commerce High School before committing to The University of San Francisco (USF) in 1952-1953.

During his sophomore season, the San Francisco Dons bolstered their lineup with the addition of two sophomores: future Hall of Famer Bill Russell and 5’10” guard Hal Perry (†). The Dons would go on to capture the National Championship in 1955 and 1956.

In 1956, K.C. Jones was among the players that were selected for the U.S. national basketball team that would compete at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. Led by K.C.’s college teammate, Bill Russell, the Gerald Tucker (†) coached U.S. team would dominate the tournament with an average winning margin of 53.5 points per game. In the gold medal match, the U.S. team would routed the Soviet Union (89-55) en route to a gold medal finish. In 8 games, K.C. average 10.9 points per game.

1956 NBA Draft

Saying that the Boston Celtics owned that 1956 NBA Draft would be an understatement. It was a coup as three of the four picks that were either a territorial selection, draftee, or trade acquisition went on to have Hall of Fame careers. The Celtics selected Tommy Heinsohn (†) with their territorial pick3, Drafted USF’s K.C. Jones (2nd Round | 13th overall), and traded for the 2nd overall pick—Bill Russell.

Tenure with the Boston Celtics (1958-1959 to 1966-1967)

Despite being drafted in 1956, Jones—who fulfilled a two-year military commitment—was only able to join the Celtics at the start of the 1958-1959 season. As a member of the Celtics, K.C. was reunited with his former roommate, college and Olympic teammate Bill Russell. Boston would go on to win the NBA Championship that year when they swept the Minneapolis Lakers in the NBA Finals. It was the Celtics second championship in three seasons and the first of eight consecutive titles.

Jones would eventually develop into an integral role player for Coach Arnold “Red” Auerbach (†). One that would focus on defense and (what Jones would later on refer to as) “blue-collar-type things.”

In the 1966-1967 season, the Celtics run of consecutive championships would end at 8 when the team fell to Wilt Chamberlain's Philadelphia 76ers (4-1) in the 1967 Eastern Conference Finals. The 6’1” backup point guard would announce his retirement shortly after and on February 10, 1989 he was enshrined in the Hall of Fame as a player along with Lenny Wilkens [player] and William (Pop) Gates (†) [player].

Presenting K.C. Jones to the Hall of Fame was his long time coach, Arnold “Red”Auerbach (†). He is an excerpt of Auerbach’s opening remarks.

I’ve known K.C. for about 30 years and you know what was so unusual in those 30 years? I don’t ever remember balling him out…. Russell put it very clearly, very well, K.C. Jones was, and is…a winner. I remember when he joined us. It was a moral victory from 16 feet if he hit the rim. He couldn’t shoot the ball, but yet, he was a winner and he worked on his game until he became a pretty fair shooter.

But the main thing was…something stuck in my mind. If we were 10 behind and I put K.C. in…you look up, were 4 behind. If we were 4 or 6 ahead and put K.C. in—we go up to 12 ahead. Now this was more than coincidental because it happened so many times and somehow however this stuck in my mind (that) this guy is an out-and-out winner. He didn’t come to play, he came to win.

I can go on-and-on about family, his personality, the fact that he is loved by everybody…even his enemies have a lot of respect for him. But the great thing in his life today that I’ll always remember is that he has been recognized by his peers. He has been recognized for these accomplishments as a player.

When I recommended K.C., I had a problem. I didn’t know whether his peers would acknowledge him as being a member of the Hall of Fame as a player or a coach. Because in my mind, he deserves it in both categories.

But I felt he was a player—first. He played hurt. That was his only big problem. He never told me when he was hurt. I’d have to find it out. But he—and this extend(s) during his coaching career—and in anything he does now, he will win because he knows how important it is to win.

Coaching career

K.C. Jones coaching career started at Brandeis University where he served as the head coach of the Brandeis Judges from 1967 to 1970. He then moved on to the role of an assistant with the Harvard University Crimson from 1970 to 1971.

In 1971-1972, Jones joined the Los Angeles Lakers as an assistant to former Celtics teammate Bill Sharman. By the end of the season, the Lakers would topple the New York Knicks (4-1)—giving K.C. his 9th NBA Championship—his first as an assistant coach. On August 8, 1972, K.C. Jones was named as the first head coach of the American Basketball Association’s (ABA) San Diego Conquistadors.

Jones would only last a season with the Consquistadors as he would jump back to the NBA for the 1973-1974 season as the new head coach of the Capital Bullets. Renamed the Washington Bullets at the start of the 1974-1975 campaign, K.C. Jones would led the Bullets all the way to the 1975 NBA Finals but his team would eventually fall to the streaking Golden State Warriors (4-0). Despite a 155-91 win-loss record in his three seasons as the Bullets head coach, K.C. was succeeded by Dick Motta on May 28, 1976.

The highlight of K.C. Jones coaching tenure was with a club that he was very familiar with: The Boston Celtics. After serving as an assistant coach from 1977-1978 to 1982-19834, Jones replaced head coach Bill Fitch at the beginning of the 1983-1984 season. Under K.C. Jones, the Celtics would reach the NBA Finals in four of his five seasons as head coach. During this period, Boston would also go on to win five straight Atlantic Division titles and two NBA championships (1984 and 1986).

K.C. would abruptly retire at the end of the 1987-1988 season and move up to a Celtics front office position for the following season. In 1989-1990, Jones would move on to Seattle and serve as an assistant coach and basketball consultant before assuming the Seattle SuperSonics head coach position in 1990–1991 and 1991–1992.

In 1994, K.C. Jones was named as an assistant coach for the Detroit Pistons in 1994-1995 and returned to the Boston Celtics in a similar role for the 1995-1996 and 1996-1997 seasons.

In 1997, K.C. joined the 9-team American Basketball League (ABL) [1996-1998] as the head coach of the New England Blizzard. In his second year as head coach, the Blizzards reached the playoffs but were eliminated by the San Jose Lasers (2-0).

Personal Notes:

Looking back at his career, K.C. Jones is considered to be one of basketball’s greatest winners. During his playing years, he won 8 NBA championships in 9 seasons. He is tied for third5 with the most career championships (trailing only former teammates Bill Russell [11] and Sam Jones [10]). As a coach, K.C. has won two NBA championships as a head coach (Boston Celtics [1984 and 1986]) and another two as an assistant (Los Angeles Lakers [1972] and Boston Celtics [1981]). He is also a five-time NBA All-Star Game head coach (Washington Bullets [1975] and Boston Celtics [1984-1987]).

By winning an NCAA Championship, an Olympic Gold Medal, and an NBA Championship; K.C. Jones is part of a very exclusive 8-member “Triple Crown” club comprised of Quinn Buckner, Anthony Davis, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Michael Jeffery Jordan, Clyde Lovellette (†), Jerry Lucas, and K.C.’s former roommate Bill Russell.

In 676 career games, Jones averaged 7.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 4.3 assists.

On February 12, 1967, the Boston Celtics honored K.C. Jones when they retired his jersey to the rafters of the Boston Garden. He was also among the 180 players, coaches and contributors that were inducted as part of the founding class of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame (November 17, 2006). Lastly, Jones was the co-recipient of the 2016 National Basketball Coaches Association’s Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award (with Jerry Sloan).

Towards the end of his life, Jones (who had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease) was residing in a Connecticut assisted living facility. His family announced that he has passed on at 4:55 AM on Christmas Day 2020.

He was 88.

This Week’s Comic Book Haul (August 9th, 2021 - August 29th, 2021)

From left to right: Department of Truth #1 (Cover P), Black Hammer: Visions #7 (Cover C), G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #285 (Cover A), and The Nice House on the Lake Issue #1 (3rd Printing), Issue #2 (2nd Printing), and both covers of Issue #3.

Here is a breakdown of this week’s titles:

1) Department of Truth #1 (Martin Simmonds Variant 6th Final Printing Incentive | 1:25 | Cover P) - Based on the little (and I do mean little) that I’ve heard about this issue on the internet, it seems that there was a mixup in the printing ratio. What used to be 1:25 ended up being…well, not 1:25.

Anyway, Image immediately went back to press to fulfill any outstanding orders so I’m not sure if its going to factor into any kind of price increase. Although, it is almost a certainty that completists are going to want one of these for their respective collections.

2) Black Hammer Visions #7 (Yuko Shimizu Variant | Cover C) - Some Filipino pride with Melissa Duffy on this book. I’m also a big fan of Yuko Shimizu’s cover art.

3) G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #285 (Andrew Griffith Regular | Cover A) - Murder by Assassination concludes in this issue.

4) The Nice House On The Lake #1 (Alvaro Martinez Bueno Torn Variant | Cover G | 3rd Printing) - Alvaro Martinez Bueno wasn’t kidding! There is even less cover this time around.

5) The Nice House On The Lake #2 (Alvaro Martinez Bueno Distressed Variant | Cover C | 2nd Printing) - Will TNHOTL #2 sell out a second time around so that we can see an even more distressed cover?

6) The Nice House On The Lake #3 (Alvaro Martinez Bueno Regular | Cover A and Christian Ward Variant | Cover B | 1st Printing) - Walter’s house guests have begun exploring just how far they can really go from the house on the lake.

Funko! Mystery Minis: Rick and Morty [Series 3] (August 12, 2021)

With our country’s third lockdown keeping us indoors for most of August, I decided to reach out to a number of online Mystery Minis sellers to see if I could procure any Rick and Morty (Series 3) minis that I didn’t have.6

Lo and behold! I found a local seller (thank you!) who was willing to part with some of the hard-to-find Minis: Hologram Rick (1:12), Hologram Rick (Glow in the Dark) [GameStop Exclusive] (1:12), The Wizard (1:24), Hospice Morty (1:36), and the 1-in-every-6 boxes Wasp Rick (1:72)!

10 down and 5 more to go!

From left to right: The Wizard (1:24), Wasp Rick (1:72), Clone Rick (1:12), Hospice Morty (1:36), and the Clone Rick [Glow in the Dark] GameStop Exclusive (1:12).

Funko! Mystery Minis: The Suicide Squad (2021) Part IV

If you’ve been following my weekly newsletter, I’ve been talking a lot about this set of Mystery Minis. What I initially thought would only be a couple of figures have now turned into an all-out quest to complete the whole set.

Thanks to my local Funko! distributor, I was able to have another three Mystery Minis delivered to my home. With the addition of Bloodsport (1:6), Harley Quinn [Suit] (1:6), and Mongal (1:12)—I now only need the treacherous Blackguard (1:24) and the elusive Harley Quinn [Torn Red Dress] (1:72) to complete the set of 12.

Procuring the one-in-six boxes Harley Quinn [Torn Red Dress] will be a tall order as they seem to be impossible to find at a price point that I am comfortable with.7

Movie of the Week: Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins [2021] (August 20, 2021)

Having followed Larry Hama’s legendary run on G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, I’ve always had this concept in my head of what Snake Eyes would be like should he ever manage to grace the sliver screen. Sadly, Snake Eyes (2021) wasn’t exactly what I expected as it was so far removed from the source material (IMHO).

Now don’t get me wrong, it was entertaining and I am happy that Snake Eyes finally gets introduced to a larger audience.

In my opinion, it would be best to go into this movie without any expectations. If you can do that, you’ll surely enjoy it.

Note: There is one mid-credit scene.


About

Tedi Gustilo Villasor, Ph.D. is a former columnist for Baby Magazine (Philippines) as well as a past contributor to NBA.com/Philippines. His other works include the indie comic books Lindol and OBIsessions.

Click here for more information on his work as a psychologist.

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1

Unless something exciting comes up that necessitates an additional entry.

2

Who himself had been named after the legendary railroad engineer Casey Jones.

3

In an effort to gain support from a team’s local market, a territorial pick was introduced by the Basketball Association of America (BAA)/National Basketball Association (NBA) as a means for teams to acquire the rights to “popular players from colleges in their area who would presumably have strong local support.” In return, the aforementioned teams would forfeit their first-round draft selection. Territorial picks were made prior to that year’s draft and were not considered to be a part of the overall selection. Hence, the “first non-territorial pick” was consider the number one pick.

The selection of territorial picks was abolished when changes were made to the draft system in 1966.

4

Jones would grab his second NBA championship as an assistant coach when the Boston Celtics defeated the Houston Rockets (4-2) in the 1981 NBA Finals.

5

Jones is tied with fellow Celtics Tommy Heinsohn(†), Tom “Satch” Sanders, and John “Hondo” Havlicek(†).

6

At this point, I only had five of the fifteen Rick and Morty (Series 3) Mystery Minis: Space Suit Rick, Space Suit Morty, Kirkland Meeseeks, Teddy Rick, and Auctioneer Mr. Poopy Butthole (GameStop Exclusive).

7

I actually had an opportunity to get the Harley Quinn [Torn Red Dress] Mystery Mini prior to the worldwide release of The Suicide Squad (2021) movie. However, I wasn’t committed yet to completing the entire line. A costly mistake! By the time I inquired about the Harley—it was gone! New cardinal rule: Don’t think on a 1:72!

8

Again, only if something of interest comes up which would require an additional post.