Former NBA guard Fred Jones is perhaps best known for his victory in the 2004 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest.
It was during that very competition that Jones was truly released into the national NBA spotlight. He impressed and used that extra exposure to help teams catch on to the fact that he could be a valuable contributor.
Jones went on to enjoy seven NBA seasons, and spent the 2007-08 campaign with the Knicks, appearing in 70 games while stepping up to start 28 of them. He averaged 7.6 points (on 42% from the field) and 2.4 assists.
Throwing down a few eye-popping slams in 2004, at just 6’2″, Jones turned some heads by not only beginning his dunks with a high bounce pass, but climbing up the ladder to go get it and throw it down with one hand. His style was undoubtedly unique.
The guard is in Houston for NBA All-Star Weekend, and kicked things off by appearing at a charity event for the John Lucas Foundation. Obviously an expert when it comes to thrilling dunks, what does Jones think of the chances of the man Carmelo Anthony called the league’s “best kept secret,” James White?
“Who don’t know Flight White, man?” Jones said, grinning. “We just talked the other day. I saw him in the hotel in Indiana. He told me I was the original one with that jumper, but I told him he’s got me by a lot! I hope does well, but my loyalty is to Terrence Ross. He’s one of my young fellas from my hometown in Portland. There aren’t many of us, so we definitely rep each other.”
When he participated in the Sprite Slam-Dunk Contest, Jones breathed some life into the theory that smaller dunkers are exciting to watch thrown it down. The NBA has seen 5’9″ Nate Robinson (a former teammate of Jones’) emerge as victor of the contest multiple times, and this season, Clippers’ guard Eric Bledsoe will strut his stuff during the competition on Saturday night.
But perhaps Jones should be given credit for sparking another interesting trend of his own. As a little used second-year player, the University of Oregon alum used the platform he was given to cash in on some popularity and earn more minutes on the hardwood. From Gerald Green, to Jeremy Evans, and this year James White, the NBA has seen similar players receive quite the boost of momentum from appearing in the contest and then go on experience moderate success in The Association.
Jones added, “Oh yeah, the Dunk-Contest definitely gives you a platform. When I won it, I was barely playing. From there, I started getting consistent minutes. It just gives you confidence and other things that you take into the game. It was definitely a platform for me to use so that everyone could see my game.”
Since last playing in the NBA, Jones just recently founded a company called Player Population. He told KnicksJournal.com, “I’ve started a private social media company for current and former NBA players. It’s a place where players can come to talk and communicate. They can share ideas and showcase their business and/or charities. It’s all about being a fraternity and more of a unit.”
The guard said that although he endorses players’ willingness to interact with fans over social media, he added, “Our site is a little different. It’s about keeping all the guys on the same page. Interacting with your fans via things like Facebook and Twitter is obviously a great thing, but what we do is unique because we focus on helping each other out.”
While Jones may hope Terrence Ross is the man whom takes home the Sprite Slam-Dunk Contest trophy this weekend, he says he’s always wishing the Knicks the best.
“Once you play for a team, you always have a place in your heart for them. I definitely want to see the team do well. It’s a great organization, and I have a few friends on the squad, so it’s been good to see them play well,” the former Knickerbocker concluded.