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Former Trail Blazers Player Caldwell Jones Dead at 64

Former Portland Trail Blazers forward-center Caldwell Jones has died of a heart attack at age 64. We remember Jones and his contributions to the Blazers.

Christopher Furlong

According to Dwight Jaynes of CSNNW, former Trail Blazers forward-center Caldwell Jones has died at age 64. The Oregonian's John Canzano confirms via Twitter.

Jones played for 9 teams during a 17-year career in the ABA and NBA. He was best known for his run with the Philadelphia 76'ers from 1976-1982. The Trail Blazers defeated Jones' Sixers in the NBA Finals during his first season with the squad.

Though he played center throughout the bulk of his career, Jones saw intermittent time at power forward during his tenure with Portland from 1985-1989. Considered a defensive specialist by that point in his career, he platooned with fellow big men Steve Johnson, Sam Bowie, Kevin Duckworth, Kenny Carr, and Maurice Lucas starting 77 of 79 games for Coach Mike Schuler in 1987-88 alongside Johnson and Duckworth.

Jones was praised by coach and teammates for his lack of selfishness. The Blazers would famously run the first offensive set of the game for Jones, after which he'd seldom touch the ball. But he helped Portland to the 10th best defensive rating in the league during the '87-'88 season, averaging more rebounds per minute than any Blazer outside of Duckworth and Lucas and the best defensive rating of any rotation player.

Jaynes confirms Jones' contributions and popularity:

Personally, I'm not sure I've ever regarded a player with as much affection and respect as Jones, a thinking-man's basketball player with a self-deprecating sense of humor and a big heart. He was a wizard on defense, even in his 30s -- able to guard just about anybody at any position. In his prime he was very athletic for a 6-11 player and so smart about angles and distance on defense.

Blazer's Edge offers condolences to the Jones family. He will be remembered.

Update: The Blazers have issued this statement regarding Jones' passing:

It's a sad day when we lose a contributing member to our Trail Blazers history. Caldwell Jones's quiet but engaging demeanor off the court made him a favorite with Trail Blazers fans during his time in Portland. As a teammate and defensive presence on the court, he brought a fierce attitude and unselfish style of play that helped make the Trail Blazers one of the NBA's best defensive teams in the late 1980s. We extend our condolences to the Jones family and will remember Caldwell for what he brought to Rip City.

--Dave / @DaveDeckard@Blazersedge