A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Box & One With Steve ‘Snapper’ Jones
SEATTLE – If you ever get the chance to sit and talk with Steve “Snapper” Jones I suggest you make the most of it and have pen, paper and a tape recorder ready. For starters I can tell you that he’s one of the most patient people that you could ever meet.
My eyes got as big as a basketball when he came and sat down beside me in the press area for dinner, “how are you doing young fella?” he asked. I waited as long as I could, which was about five seconds, and then I asked him, “Do you know who you are?”
He just smiled and broke out in laughter.
For you young folks, Steve “Snapper’ Jones was a guard that played in the ABA and NBA for nine years and retired with the Portland Trail Blazers. He has since served as an NBA analyst for NBA, TNT, and TBS and did some color commentating for CBS.
To be quite honest, he’s one of the best in the business.
It was really hard for him to pin point a highlight of his career because he treasure every moment and enjoyed the teammates that he had. But one of his most memorable moments was working along with Chick Hearn and Jim Durham in Barcelona during the 1992 Olympic Games.
“It was such a wonderful time and place to be if you were a basketball player or fan and I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to be part of it.”, said Jones
I starting out with what I thought was a seemingly simple question but wasn’t prepared for the box that I had just opened. How has the game change from when you were in the league?
“Well for starters I would say that the difference of now and then is more economic and everyone is paid so well now that the sense of survival doesn’t exist”, Jones said.
“During my time everyone one had to pull together as a team to survive. That’s the basic difference but the game is still the same.“Basketball is a game of simplicity, passing, cutting, movement.”
“And seeing where you have the greatest chance to score with what player. Basketball has nothing to do with the democratic process; the best player should have the ball in his hand.”
“Teams that do a better at of creating miss matches have an easier time putting other teams away but there’s such a commonality in the way many teams run their offense that it becomes a lot tougher.”
‘The mentoring process is different because the league got young really fast. Once the hardship rule was in place and at one time there were only a few people taking advantage of it.”
“Once the league they started going back into the high schools that changed everything. Now you’ve got these young guys coming into the league that really don’t understand the game or the lifestyle of the NBA and now it’s all on the job training and not everyone can handle it.’
Who has the toughest conference, the best East or West? “From top to bottom I would have to say the Western Conference but that doesn’t mean that the East can’t produce champions such as the Detroit Pistons or the Miami Heat.”,Jones addded
“The pendulum swings back and forth, it really comes down to understanding what it takes to beat your opponent.”
If Snapper Jones could chose five players to build a new franchise around he would pick (and not necessarily in this order) Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Tim Duncan and Wesley Chism Jr. Me, I asked? Yeah Man, those guys would have you looking like an All-Star and I would be considered a genius for finding you”.
Steve would really love to see Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett play together. “Watching them this summer this summer on Team USA you saw how good they could be because they understood each others strengths and weaknesses.”
Steve doesn’t feel that picking Kevin Durant was a hard decision to make. “He’s a unique player and only going to get better”, he added. “Playing the two spot is always going to give him a slight advantage and he has the desire to be great along with a humble and quite demeanor.”
Basketball and Steve “Snapper” Jones go together like peanut butter and jelly. The passion, knowledge and love that he has of the game has always been there even before he won a high school state championship in Oregon. This indeed was a moment that I will always treasure.