Bobby Jones is not a strong athlete. He doesn't particularly enjoy playing basketball. His idea of a perfect day is to sleep until noon, have something to eat, then take a nap.
When Philadelphia acquired him from Denver four years ago for George McGinnis, Jones was delighted when informed that he would not be a starter. Once he was able to channel all his energy into about 25 minutes of work a night, the slender 6-foot-8 forward became one of the best sixth men in basketball.
His scoring spurts and intense defense in the stretch of close games were major factors in the 76ers' great success for three seasons. Although a reserve, he was selected for the All-Star Game last season.
Despite an overall 71-27 record last season, including the playoffs, Coach Billy Cunningham shuffled his Joneses in October, returning Bobby to starting status and putting Caldwell Jones on the bench.
"I just want to get more minutes for Bobby," the coach explained. So far, however, the move hasn't done much for Jones except wear him down. After missing only four games in the last three years, he's sat out five of the last six with bruised heels and isn't expected to play Wednesday night when the Bullets visit Philadelphia.
"I'm tired," Jones said about his added duty against the muscular power forwards in the league. "More tired than I was last year. I know I've played more minutes and they're harder minutes."
Despite his additional playing time, Jones' scoring and rebounding averages have remained about the same. Last season, he averaged 25.3 minutes, 13.5 points and 5.4 rebounds. This year, playing 31 minutes a game, his scoring pace is 14.6 and his rebounding average 5.8.
The 76ers just completed one of the most successful western swings in memory. After opening with a three-point loss at Phoenix, they beat Golden State, Seattle, Portland and Utah within five nights.
The 76ers got up at 4:30 a.m. Saturday in Portland. Fog delayed their flight to Utah and then they endured a two-hour layover in San Francisco before arriving in Salt Lake City in midafternoon. Their luggage was lost and arrangements had to be made with a sporting goods store to get shoes. The 76ers had planned to wear the Jazz's old New Orleans' road uniforms, but, instead, the game was delayed 45 minutes until their uniforms arrived.
After all this, at the end of an eight-day trip, two of the older players performed with the inspiration of teen-agers. Julius Erving scored 34 points and Caldwell Jones had 17 points and 19 rebounds.