|Born||August 4, 1950|
|Died||September 21, 2014 (aged 64)|
|Listed height||6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)|
|Listed weight||217 lb (98 kg)|
|High school||Desha Central|
|College||Albany State (1969–1973)|
|NBA draft||1973 / Round: 2 / Pick: 32nd overall|
|Selected by the Philadelphia 76ers|
|Position||Center / Power forward|
|Number||3, 11, 27, 39|
|1973–1975||San Diego Conquistadors / Sails|
|1975–1976||Spirits of St. Louis|
|1985–1989||Portland Trail Blazers|
|1989–1990||San Antonio Spurs|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career ABA and NBA statistics|
|Points||10,241 (7.9 ppg)|
|Rebounds||10,685 (8.2 rpg)|
|Blocks||2,297 (1.8 bpg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Caldwell "Pops" Jones (August 4, 1950 – September 21, 2014) was an American professional basketball player.
Jones was drafted out of Albany State College by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 14th pick in the 1973 NBA draft. He played three seasons in the American Basketball Association (ABA) and 14 seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA), most extensively with the 76ers.
Jones' brothers, Charles, Wil and Major all played at Albany State and in the NBA. The most prominent of the foursome, Caldwell, was best known as the least flamboyant member of the high-powered 76ers teams of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Playing alongside Julius Erving and company, Jones did not need to score much with Philadelphia, so he concentrated on rebounding, shotblocking, and defense. A lanky yet strong 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) pivotman, his hustle, board work, and defense kept him in professional basketball for 17 years.
Playing in his final season at the age of 39, he was the fifth-oldest NBA player ever to have suited up at the time. He finished with 10,241 points (in the NBA and ABA), but it had taken him 1,299 games to rack them up. No other player who scored 10,000 points had ever needed more than 1,200 games to do so.
Jones began his career in 1973–74 with the ABA's San Diego Conquistadors, coached by Wilt Chamberlain. During three ABA seasons (including short stints with the Kentucky Colonels and the Spirits of St. Louis), Jones averaged 15.8 points, hitting a career high of 19.5 points per game in 1974–75. "I was a gunner", he later told the Dallas Morning News. "Every time I caught the ball I shot it."
With the ABA–NBA merger prior to the 1976–77 season, Jones landed with Philadelphia. His days as a scorer were over. "We had so much talent on those 76ers teams that [Coach] Gene Shue said all he wanted his centers to do was play defense and rebound. I had no argument with that", Jones later told the Portland Oregonian..."We were winning and that's the name of the game. And it's kept me around for 16 years."
In Jones' first season with Philadelphia, the team was particularly explosive. Erving (21.6 point per game), George McGinnis (21.4 pointe per game), Doug Collins (18.3 points per game), and Lloyd B. Free (later World B. Free) (16.3 points per game) propelled the squad to a 50–32 regular season record and an 1977 NBA Finals meeting with the Portland Trail Blazers. Jumping out to a two-game lead, the 76ers appeared to be headed for the title, but the Trail Blazers rallied for a dramatic 4–2 Finals win. For the season, Jones averaged 6.0 points and 8.1 rebounds and finished sixth on the team in minutes played. He also ranked fifth in the league in blocked shots with 200.
Philadelphia won the Atlantic Division again in 1977–78 but lost to the Washington Bullets in the Eastern Conference Finals. Jones averaged 5.4 points (ninth on the team) and 7.0 rebounds (third). That season marked the emergence of Darryl Dawkins, with whom Jones shared minutes in the pivot during the following seasons.
In 1978–79 the 76ers slipped a bit, finishing second in the Atlantic Division to Washington and losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the conference semifinals. Jones averaged 9.3 points (his highest average at Philadelphia) and 9.6 rebounds and was ninth in the league in blocks with 157.
The 76ers reached the 1980 NBA Finals. Erving scored 26.9 points per game in the season, and Jones was a defensive force, pulling down 11.9 rebounds per game, fourth in the league, and blocking 162 shots, seventh in the league. Although Philadelphia finished behind the Boston Celtics in the regular season, the 76ers tore through the playoffs before coming up short against the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals.
Jones and teammate Bobby Jones (no relation) were NBA All-Defensive First Team selections for the next two seasons, and the 76ers made another trip to the NBA Finals and battled the Lakers in 1982. Philadelphia again fell in six games. After the season, the 76ers sent Jones to the Houston Rockets in a deal that brought Moses Malone to Philadelphia. The 76ers won the championship the following season.
Jones played two seasons in Houston (joining his brother Major on the Rockets' squad), one in Chicago, four in Portland, and one in San Antonio. Primarily he was a reserve, called upon to spell the starting center, grab some rebounds, and play some defense. "I'm like a spare tire on the Cadillac", he told USA Today in the twilight of his career. "I'm just sitting around in the trunk, waiting to get put on the car if one of the fancy tires blows out".
"Everybody likes to look at the glorified part of the game, like scoring points", Jones told USA Today in 1990. "But there is a lot more to the game. I look at myself like an offensive lineman. Someone has to open the holes for the 1,000-yard rushers."
Jones grew up in McGehee, Arkansas, a member of a very tall family. The 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) Caldwell Jones, Sr., and his wife, 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) Cecelia, had eight children. Their shortest child was Clovis, the only daughter, who grew to 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m). Four of the Jones' boys played in the NBA: Wilbert (6 ft 8 in (2.03 m), one season each with the Indiana Pacers and the Buffalo Braves, plus seven seasons with three ABA teams), Caldwell (five NBA and three ABA teams), Major (6 ft 9 in (2.06 m), five seasons with the Houston Rockets, one with the Detroit Pistons), and Charles (6 ft 9 in (2.06 m), 15 seasons total with Philadelphia, the Chicago Bulls, the Washington Bullets, the Detroit Pistons and the Houston Rockets). Two other brothers played minor league basketball.
In the 37 NBA seasons accumulated by the four Jones' brothers, only once did a Jones post a scoring average in double figures—Wilbert did it in the 1976–77 season with the Pacers, tallying 13.0 points per game. However, between them the brothers had several double-figure scoring seasons in the ABA.
Oliver was the first of the Jones' brothers to play basketball at Albany State and later became head coach for 28 years at the school. Five other brothers, including Caldwell, followed. For 18 straight seasons, a Jones occupied the center position for the Albany basketball team.
Caldwell distinguished himself the most as a professional out of all brothers.
"Caldwell had never been much of a golfer", his wife Vanessa said. "He’d discovered the game late in life. But you know, he wrote that he would play golf if that’s the only thing he could do. That’s what he would do every day for the rest of his life". "Too sudden", Vanessa said, "he was fine in church and at brunch. Just a normal day. No reason to think anything was up. I miss him so much".
- List of National Basketball Association career blocks leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career playoff blocks leaders
- The Official NBA Basketball Encyclopedia. Villard Books. 1994. p. 209. ISBN 0-679-43293-0.
- "Albany State basketball coach resigns, interim coach named". onnidan.com. March 24, 2000. Retrieved January 2, 2020.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 24, 2014. Retrieved September 22, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Weber, Bruce (September 23, 2014), "Caldwell Jones, Artful Center, Dies at 64", The New York Times
- "Caldwell Jones, longtime pro center, dies at golf course". FOX Sports. September 23, 2014. Retrieved January 2, 2020.