If you’re a first-year player in the NBA, you might want to think about reading this installment of Rookie Tales</strong..
As the Cavaliers made their final regular season trip to Indiana on Friday night to face the Pacers, it was a trip down memory lane for James Jones – who was selected with the 49th overall pick by the Pacers in the famed 2003 Draft that produced the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony – but also solid, seasoned pros like Jones, Kyle Korver, Mo Williams, David West and James’ newest Cavalier teammate, Kendrick Perkins.
Jones starred at the University of Miami, where he played all four years and was recently inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame. He was a perennial All-Big East honoree before being selected by the Pacers in 2003.
As a pro, he ranks among the Association’s all-time top 30 three-point marksmen – bringing a .403 career percentage into the 2014-15 season. He won the Three-Point Shootout at 2011 All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles and, of course, has won a pair of NBA Championships with his hometown Heat.
Off the floor, as a Finance major at “The U,” Jones was a member of the Big East All-Academic Team during his first three years and was part of the prestigious Verizon Academic All-American team as a senior. At Coral Gables, James was a member of the National Honor Society and carried a 3.41 GPA.
In today’s Rookie Tales, Jones talks about his first year in Indianapolis – on a successful team loaded with veterans from across the NBA spectrum, from the steady Reggie Miller to the mercurial Ron Artest – and what he took from them for the remainder of his 12-year career …
That was a great Draft class ...
It was amazing to still see Michael Jordan ...
Not a lot of rookies enter the league and join a cast of characters like the 2003-04 Pacers...
What was it like being brought in with that group and which veteran (or veterans) took you under their wing?
You were also fortunate enough to join an established, experienced group of pros. How did that benefit you?
How did joining a winning, Championship-contending team benefit you as a rookie and then throughout your career?
Did any veterans mess with you as a rookie?
Were the veterans hard on you?
The 2003 NBA Draft class is famous for the superstars at the top of the Draft, but it also produced some of the most productive pros over the past decade.
How has the game (and rookie classes) changed since that Draft?
Was it difficult to come from being a successful four-year player in college to an end-of-the bench guy as a rookie?