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How fitting that K.C. Jones's decision to retire as coach of the Boston Celtics was leaked by a Boston television station Tuesday night.

No press conference. No banks of microphones. No bright lights.Jones, never one to crave public attention, even had an opportunity to break the news himself when he spoke with reporters after practice Tuesday at Hellenic College.

But he didn't utter a word about stepping aside. Instead, he spoke of the New York Knicks, the Celtics' opponent Wednesday night in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.

But K.C. Jones, one of the most successful coaches in NBA history, is leaving the bench at the end of the playoffs to become Boston's new vice president of basketball operations and director of player personnel.

Jimmy Rodgers, whom the Celtics refused to release from his contract so he could coach the New York Knicks, will replace Jones.

Jones's decision caught everybody in the Boston organization by surprise. He broached the subject with Red Auerbach last Thursday, the eve of Boston's 1988 playoff opener. "I've thought about it for some time," Jones said Tuesday night. "I notified Red of my decision. Red was surprised but he understood."

Jones informed his players at a meeting before practice Tuesday. "The players were totally shocked. When I talked with them, they thought I was going to tell them we were going to New York last night," he said.

"Basically, I have done it all," Jones said in explaining his decision. "I've been to the finals four times. I've won two championships. And family, that played a big part."

Jones will turn 56 on May 25. He wants to spend more time with his wife Ellen and their young son, Christopher.