Rare in sports do you see a professional athelte get the opportunity to play in their hometown. James Jones grew up in Miami, attended American Senior High in Miami, and played basketball at the University of Miami before being drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 2003.
After a few stints in other cities, Jones signed a contract to come home and play for the Miami Heat. His role with the team has always been limited, that is until this year.
Jones has been a valuable asset to this team, especially in the absence of Mike Miller, with his outstanding three point shooting and ability to draw charges. Those talents were on display in full form last Sunday, in Miami’s 99-90 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
With a bench that has struggled (that’s being kind) this postseason, Jones provided some much needed scoring, especially since Chris Bosh and his offensive game were lost somewhere on Collins Avenue.
The three point champion connected on 5 of 7 shots from the three point arc and finished with 25 points. But the most interesting play of the night involved a hard Jones foul on Paul Pierce, resulting in a 4th quarter scuffle.
It is no secret that Pierce has a reputation for being a jerk. It seems like every time there is a scuffle with Boston, a green number 34 jersey is somewhere close by.
Pierce received a technical for what appeared to be a head-butt to Jones after the foul. Jones did not back down. The two were separated by officials before anything more could develop, but one thing was clear, the rivalry had been ignited.
The Boston Celtics have always been known as a gritty team, always being accused of dirty play around the league. Now Miami is pushing back. James Jones did not back down from Paul Pierce and neither did the rest of the team.
Following the scuffle with Jones, Dwyane Wade lowered his shoulder into Pierce, who was attempting to set a screen on Wade. It resulted in double technicals after Pierce allegedly taunted Wade, and he was ejected from the game. It was only the first game of what could potentially be a very long series, but Miami has frustrated Boston.
‘The “U” invented swagger,” we hear it all the time in the world of college football. Perhaps its fitting that James Jones, a former Hurricane, was the catalyst for bringing the swagger down to South Beach.