Sunday, December 18, 2005

Cool to the Heat

When Damon Jones signed with the Cavaliers in September, Ric Bucher of wrote a pretty bold column insinuating that Jones might be in the Cavs' camp, but still very much yearned to be with the Heat, where he was the starting point guard on a conference finalist last year.
I thought it was a dose of East Coast arrogance from Bucher, a "How could Jones take Cleveland over Miami without being forced?" dig at the Cavaliers and Cleveland's cold, snowy winters.
Three months later, I'm starting to think there was some validity to the column. Most of my suspicions have been aroused by what has come directly out of Jones' ever-moving mouth.
Turns out, Jones thinks Heat GM/coach/puppet master Pat Riley had a pretty good thing going last year, and is more than a little bitter that Riley saw fit to whitewash the team around Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade, tossing Damon and Eddie Jones aside for the likes of Jason Williams, Gary Payton and Antoine Walker.
Jones is a spurned lover. He is on the Cavs' arm now, but makes no bones about looking with hurt and longing in Miami's direction.
Losing the starting point guard job to Eric Snow didn't help matters for Jones, who clammed up to the media for most of November because of his bench assignment. Once he opened up again, he reportedly likened his Miami-to-Cleveland transition as going from being in the Beatles to being a backup singer for the Isley Brothers.
During the Cavs' win over the Nuggets last week, TNT's broadcast team of Marv Albert and Steve Kerr shed light on the comment. Albert called it "an insult to the Isley Brothers."
What about the Cavs, who now pay Jones? Seems pretty insulting to them, too.
Jones' bitterness fully blossomed leading up to Saturday's win over Miami at The Q. He hit Riley with both verbal barrels, saying recently-resigned Heat coach Stan Van Gundy was "set up to fail" because Riley was looking for a reason to re-install himself as Miami's head coach.
Jones could very well be right, but the truth seemed less important than sticking it to Riley, the author of Jones' one-way ticket out of Miami.
Riley didn't take the verabl shots laying down, firing back prior to the Heat-Cavs game. He said Jones was "being Damon Jones," an apparent hint that Jones' relationship with Riley has been less-than-fuzzy for some time.
Riley doesn't want anything to do with Jones. The trouble is, Jones would probably put up with Riley again in a heartbeat if it meant he could go back to being the starting point guard for the Heat, the team with which he had his breakout season, the place where he was a favored member of Shaq's court.
Not that being a second lieutenant for LeBron James is a bad gig, but the first thing Jones acknowledged when he signed with the Cavs was that they are more than a few miles behind the Heat in terms of being a title contender.
Jones is a bit reckless when it comes to shooting three-pointers, but he is a professional. He has shown a willingness to take the job assigned him and perform it with enthusiasm. In Cleveland, that means coming off the bench.
But if you are one of those Cleveland fans who thinks every player who suits up for your teams should only have eyes for Cleveland, avoid eye contact with Damon Jones, because you'll probably see images of Shaq, Dwyane and palm trees.

1 comment:

Joel said...

While Jones certainly has shown a knack for hitting big shots from 3-point range, this is just another distraction the Cavs absolutely do not need.

Frankly, I disagree on the professional comment. He seems like he's out for No. 1 and that's it, and that's not a professional, in my book. See: his "3" routine jogging back down the court after making shot.

Plus: he is a serious defensive liability -- perhaps that's the reason he's on the bench to start games?