Former NBA player helps Anyang SBS keep winningThe arrival of three very tall men at an Italian restaurant in southern Seoul one recent evening caused everyone’s head to turn. One of men was Dontae Antijuaine Jones, 29, a forward on the Anyang SBS professional basketball team who, since he burst on the scene last month, has led the team to 14 consecutive wins.
In a game on Sunday, Anyang beat Seoul SK 90-86, raising its total number of victories to 32. Jones and his teammate Junior Burrough had a total of 22 points in that game. With the teams tied at 86, Jones scored two points, and with five seconds to go in the game he hit two free throws, clinching the victory for Anyang.
Jones was with Burrough and head coach Kim Dong-kwang looking around Seoul for the first time.
Asked how he spent his time, Jones said, “I slept late and went to Itaewon and ended up buying three pairs of basketball sneakers.”
When asked who his basketball idol was, he did not hesitate to mention Michael Jordan, but also cited Magic Johnson, calling him someone special.
It’s easy to see why he wears the number 32 ― Johnson and Jones have many things in common. When defenses crowd them, they pass the ball to other players, giving them a chance. When the defense is loose, they hit three-pointers. Jones is hard to cover.
He says that basketball is a team sport and everyone makes mistakes, but team play can make up for those errors and result in a win.
He has a different attitude than other foreign basketball players, who basically pursue solo play.
Then, Burrough added his thoughts. “Former NBA all-star MVP Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers is a good player, but he holds on to the ball, dribbling and shooting alone,” he said. Jones interrupted and said the 76ers were a weak team and Iverson has to play a bigger role.
After watching the NBA All-Star Game last month, they argued with each other for hours over the subject ― Jones and Burrough said they spend four hours a day talking and never feel bored.
“I am very talk talkative and talking is one of my hobbies,” said Jones, who says his nickname is DJ.
When Mr. Kim told him DJ was the nickname of a former Korean president, Jones said, “Then, there is an even better reason to call me DJ.”
Asked how he ended up in Korea, Jones said, “I was hesitating as to whether to come to Korea, and received a call from Burrough,” looking at Burrough and noting that he was a great player while he was in college.
Jones said he was fascinated with Burrough’s play when he was one of the top players at the University of Virginia.
They met when they were playing in the National Basketball Association in 1997 and again in Greece and they became good friends.
“Burrough told me that if I play forward and he plays center, we would make a good team. He told me not to worry. I couldn’t refuse.”
Jones was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and still has a home there. He started playing basketball when he was seven, but since his father and uncle were football players, he was a quarterback while he was in high school.
Right before he finished high school, he took a greater interest in basketball and switched to the sport.
Standing 1.97 meters (6 feet, 5 inches) tall and weighing 101.8 kilogram (224 pounds), Jones was picked by the New York Knicks in the first round of the NBA draft of new players in 1996.
He moved to the Boston Celtics in 1997 and later played in the Italian, Puerto Rican and Greek leagues before joining Anyang SBS.
When the lamb chops they ordered were brought to the table, Jones suddenly said, “Time out,” adding that while the players were eating they wanted to concentrate on that. When the dinner was almost finished, Burrough was asked why Jones’s joining the Anyang SBS sparked the team into finding its form.
“Before, fast play did not work, but since Jones joined, quick-passing started to work,” he said. “On defense, there are more interceptions of balls and blocked shots and counter-offense has become possible.”
Burrough said he felt more comfortable since Jones helped him on defense.
The next destination for the basketball players was a nearby jazz bar; they said listening to jazz is one of their hobbies.
by Sung Baik-you