Thursday, July 22, 2010
Jones' dad reflects on draft-day surprise
By Jeff Caplan
The living room at his grandmother's house fell to a hush. Dominique Jones, his father Norman, his grandma and a few friends stared intently at the TV showing the NBA draft.
Dominique Jones was thrilled to be selected with the 25th spot in the NBA draft, but his dad wasn't at ease until the Mavs purchased his rights.
This was it, Dominique thought -- the 24th pick was up. He was ready to become an Atlanta Hawk. Once his name wasn't called by pick No. 20, the 6-foot-4 bulldog of a shooting guard projected he'd go to the Hawks. He liked that idea. It would be a chance to begin his pro career on a playoff team that seemed a good fit and is not terribly far from his lifelong home of tiny Lake Wales, Fla., which also produced NBA star Amare Stoudemire and former player Vin Baker.
"When Atlanta didn't take him," Norman Jones said, "he got up and went into the back room because I think the next thing we were looking at was New Jersey [with the 27th pick]."
Just then, NBA commissioner David Stern returned to the podium and announced, "With the 25th pick, the Memphis Grizzlies select Dominique Jones from South Florida." Jones' grandma and his friends started to holler and dance around the house in celebration.
Dominique's dad, though, didn't make a sound. He rose up, puzzled.
"I said this doesn't make sense and something's wrong. With Xavier Henry going [to Memphis] at [No.] 12 and they already had O.J. Mayo, that just didn't seem a good fit, so I was concerned with that pick right away," Norman said. "Immediately, I called one of the agents we're affiliated with and said, 'Man, that doesn't make sense.' "
Just days before the draft, Norman lamented the fact that the Dallas Mavericks didn't have a first-round pick to select Dominique.
"I was reading what Dirk Nowitzki was saying, that he would like to bring in a player that can create his own shot and everything," Norman said. "I said, heck, buy into the first round and get Jones, you'll have somebody that can do that. We never thought that was realistic. Those were my exact words two or three days earlier."
So, as Dominique's dad was on the phone searching for an explanation why Memphis drafted his son, Dominique's cell phone chimed from the other room.
"Mark Cuban was on the phone with Dominique, and he hollered, 'Dad, I've been traded to Dallas,' " Norman said. "I said, 'OK, now that's perfect.' Then I got overly excited thinking about the history of Dallas with Mark Cuban. When that trade came across, to me, that was just the perfect fit, so I was ecstatic."