During my layover in Phoenix, Arizona, I sent a challenge out to 11 year NBA veteran and three point sharpshooter Damon Jones. I knew Damon would be at Impact’s event in Las Vegas, but I didn’t really expect him to respond.
Yet he DID!
What ensued was three days of playful trash talk and challenges as shown below in my twitter feed. While it may not have ended the way I would have liked, the experience still left me thankful.
September 20, 2011 (The Challenge, Response and Initial Meeting)
I honestly couldn’t believe it when I looked at the notification on my phone and saw that Jones had taken the challenge. It was early afternoon and I had just checked into my hotel room in Vegas last Tuesday.
Beyond excited, I packed up my gym bag with a change of clothes and my Jordans and then let the world know that Me vs. Damon Jones was on!!
As I took a cab ride over to Impact Basketball’s facility, my buddy DJ got in on the Twitter action and spoke a little trash for me!
Damon’s response had me smiling from ear to ear! I had come out to Vegas to spread the mevsMJ.com word and minutes into the experience something amazing was already happening!
I watched the two games prior to Jones’ 5:30pm game and awaited his arrival.
As Damon warmed up prior to his game, I walked out on the court (THANK YOU Impact for the VIP passes) towards Jones, and was greeted with a huge smile and warm handshake. I could tell he recognized me from our online conversation. He asked in a challenging tone, “You ready?” I responded, “Always, when are we going to do this!?” Jones replied, “Right after this game! I’ll come find you and we’ll do it!”
In the first half of the game Damon was 4 of 6 from downtown.
As he began warming up for the second half he walked right past me and I said, “I see you!” (A modern day way of acknowledging someone’s success)
Jones very sure of himself responded, “Did that make you nervous!? You still think you want some of this!?”
I told him, “Of course!”
With a puzzled look he replied, “Really!?!?”
Almost laughing I said, “Yeah, because you thought two of the four you made were off!”
Then in what would turn out to be classic Damon Jones fashion he confidently told me, while shooting a three at the same time, “Naa, I just say ‘that’s off’ to throw the defender off!” With the ball halfway to the rim, he had now turned back completely to me until he heard it swish through and then said, “See!”
I laughed, appreciated his confidence and knew I’d have my hands full after the game.
The only problem is there was no shoot off on Tuesday. Midway through the 4th quarter Jones had his knees iced and I was almost positive then that he wasn’t going to shoot with me.
He left pretty much immediately after the game. I of course proceeded to get my shots in and went back to my hotel room to get some rest, but not before calling him out!
September 21, 2011 (The Response, More Trash Talk and a New Shootout Date Set)
Fairly early on Wednesday morning Damon responded to his whereabouts after the game the night before.
30 minutes before Damon’s 3:30pm game on Wednesday, I saw him sitting on the other side of the court a few seats from Chauncey Billups. Never one to shy away from a challenge (Remember: I am trying to get a game of 1-on-1 vs. Michael Jordan), I made my way from my courtside seat, on the other side of the court, over to Jones and we had a good laugh as I sat down next to him and we began to talk.
Damon Jones can flat out shoot the ball! I know that, he knows that and he’ll tell you so in a playful way if you don’t know that! I’ve watched the guy for years make shots in the NBA, teamed with the likes of Dwayne Wade and LeBron James. I asked him about his shooting practice and if he counts shots or makes. As I thought, he said he only counts makes and depending on the schedule would get in 500 makes three to four times a week from various areas on the court.
He told me with a large smile that turned into a laugh, “It takes a lot of work and a lot of trash talk to be as good as me, but keep working and maybe you’ll get there some day!”
Amused and enjoying the verbal jabs, I responded, “I hear you talking, but I don’t see you doing anything! I’m here! I’ll be here!”
Jones then asked me, “OK, how long will you be here? How about we shoot tomorrow at 11am!”
I said, “It’s on! I’ll be here!”
I then wished him luck and watched the next two games!
September 22, 2011 (The Day of the Shootout and What Could Have Been)
I woke up at 5:42am Thursday morning and while I wish I could say it was nerves about the upcoming shootout, it was not. That was actually the longest I had slept during my time in Vegas, apparently thrown off by the three hour time change from Florida.
Still, I jumped out of bed, ordered a nice breakfast and sent out a tweet in an attempt to confirm my upcoming shootout with one of the NBA’s best!
I arrived at Impact’s training center around 9:35am that morning. I caught the last few minutes of Coby Karl’s workout and watched the first few minutes of Eric Bledsoe’s workout before deciding to see if I could go get some shots in on the open half court prior to Damon’s arrival at 11am.
My buddy Karol got in on the action and based upon Jones’ response, I wanted to be as ready as possible!
With the guys at Impact being cool with me using the court, I grabbed an NBA ball, headed down to the other end and began shooting around 10:45am or so.
Then around 11:30am I got the following message from Damon.
Disappointed for sure, I continued to get my shooting work in, changed clothes and then enjoyed the day’s games and DJ’s Twitter response.
Could I have beaten Damon Jones in a shooting contest? Who knows! All I knew was that the experience would have been great and I would have without a doubt done much better than Damon ever would have expected. I know I can shoot the ball!
I ran into Jones as he was leaving Thursday evening, having just made 10 three pointers in his game. He wished me the best on my journey and told me to stay in touch.
September 26, 2011 (NBA Ball and More Damon Jones)
One of the first things I did this past Saturday morning when I got back from Vegas was look into getting an NBA ball. When I got waxed by Garfield Blair in 1-on-1, we used his NBA ball and I was thrown off a bit by the different feel (not that the ball would have mattered in our two games). Then at Impact I got to use the ball the pro’s use on two seperate occasions for extended periods of time and decided that if I’m going to be playing NBA guys, I need to get used to their ball!
I sent a quick text to one of my contacts and Monday I had my official NBA ball!
I of course had to let Damon know and assure him that we WILL have a shootout ONE DAY and I will be coming for his self proclaimed, “World’s Greatest Shooter” crown!
Thank you Damon Jones!
I want to thank Damon for his kindness and availability. Sure he backed out twice (Damon, did Rudy or OJ text you that I was popping those nets Thursday morning?? Haha! :-D), but he could have easily done what so many others do and never even responded to my initial challenge.
Will we ever have a shoot off? Only time will tell!
What I can assure you is that if there is a next time, I will be even more prepared and ready!
LET IT RAIN!
me vs. MJ…the amazing journey continues!
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