Current assistant coach Ron Jones is unique in so many ways. The obvious initial reason is his nickname – Popeye – and the other is his not so handsome looks that landed him on a few lists with Sam Cassell.
Like Sam Cassell, Popeye was also a late draft pick by the Houston Rockets – 2nd round late. Although Popeye never played a minute with the Houston team, he was traded to the neighbor Dallas Mavs where he would become a solid starter and a rebounding beast at just 6’8 tall.
In 1995, when the Mavs were jacking up 3 pointers at a NBA record rate, Popeye was there to grab a lot of missed shots and ended up averaging a double double with 11 rebounds. Here’s his most impressive games from his 2 year stint as the rebounder for the 3 Js (Jason, Jamal & Jimmy), George McCloud and Tony Dumas.
- 11 pts & 28 rebs (11 orb) vs Pacers
- 12 pts & 27 rebs vs Clippers
- 25 pts & 20 rebs vs Celtics
- 18 pts & 20 rebs (11 orb) vs Sonics
- 18 pts & 20 rebs vs Suns
- 16 pts & 20 rebs (11 orb) vs TWolves
- 11 pts & 21 rebs vs Rockets
- 11 pts & 22 rebs vs Nuggets
Popeye was traded to the young Raptors the following season and despite putting up decent stats and the occasional 20/20 game, he soon became a journeyman and ended up on 5 more teams over the following 7 seasons.
THE MAN WHO NEVER DUNKED
Looking back, what I find more interesting than Popeye getting all those boards at 6’8 (don’t mention Charles Barkley, Dennis Rodman or 6’9 Ben Wallace because those exceptions are hall of fame exceptions) is that the 6’8 Popeye Jones never dunked in a game. When we usually talk about guys in the NBA that have never dunked, we usually end up talking about short white point guards, not power forwards that were able to grab 28 rebounds in a single game.
Like I said, Popeye is unique. His son is pretty unique too. He also became a pro athlete but instead of playing ball like Dad, he chose the puck and became one of the few African-American Pro Hockey players.
TWO THUMBS UP
Popeye’s story is so unique you could probably make a movie out of it. Which reminds me, he was also a film critic. Along with Dallas teammate Tony Dumas, the duo became known as the African-American version of Siskel & Ebert who specialized in reviewing basketball related films that were worth renting on VHS at Blockbuster Video in the 90s.