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The Unknown William Jones

In this article I will provide some little known facts about the founder and long-term Secretary General of FIBA, William Jones.

Game interventions

FIBA Secretary General William Jones routinely intervened in games if he felt that justice could be served that way. Here are a few examples.

1951 European championship, Paris, France: In the final game, between the teams of Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, Soviet Ilmar Kullam scored a winning free throw with one second left on the clock. However, one referee claimed the free throw was invalid because Kullam had stepped on the line. Jones intervened and forced referees to count that goal, thus giving a win, and the title, to the Soviet team.

Link 1, Link 2, page 13.

1967 World Championship, Montevideo, Uruguay: In a game between the teams of the United States and the Soviet Union, the Soviet team disagreed with one of the referee's decisions, which spawned a 20-minute argument involving both teams and referees. Jones intervened again and declared his decision. (This time, it was against the Soviet team).


1972 Olympics, Munich, Germany: read this, this and this.

Referee assignments

Jones met Alexander Gomelsky at the Montreal Olympics of 1956 and made him a tournament referee. The episode is described on page 45 of Gomelsky's book, "Encyclopedia of Basketball". Gomelsky actually officiated several games in Montreal! Gomelsky wasn't new to the job, though, as he had already officiated enough games in Soviet internal tournaments.

At the 1972 Munich Olympics, Jones made Yuri Ozerov a tournament referee. This time, however, the newly appointed referee didn't officiate any games. The sole purpose of Jones's action was to force the FIBA to pay for Ozerov's accommodation.


In Gomelsky's "Encyclopedia of Basketball", (p.44), Gomelsky tells what happened during the Moscow Olympics in 1980. Jones was invited there:

"A love for vodka and the kindness ruined the creator of FIBA. During the Moscow Olympics, our admirers of William Jones, such as Vyacheslav Hrynin (a secretary of the Soviet Basketball Federation at the time) and Alexander Ponomarev (an Olympic basketball tournament director) plied him with vodka for several days. As a result, Jones suffered a stroke and was sent by plane to Switzerland, where FIBA headquarters was located at the time. Although he lived for a short time, he could not speak and eventually died."