Lamont Jones is a 29 year old professional basketball player from Harlem, New York that has experienced a lot in his career, but already saw so much in young years that nobody would have wanted any at that age to experience the crime and drugs in New York´s worst area that Mo Mo did in the 90´s as everyone who knows him calls him. He lost his father as a kid and that was the first time he felt what it meant to have family. The meaning of family popped up again in his life as COVID-19 exploded upon the world in 2020. Jones who began his basketball career at Rice H S and then played at Oak Academy before playing 2 years at Arizona(NCAA) played his last game before COVID-19 landed in Germany on March 7 contributing 23 points,3 rebounds and 7 dimes in the convincing 90-82 victory In Giessen then did something very un American deciding to stay in Germany instead of following most of the American players and head home. His reasoning was that he had a lot of faith in the German health system and didn´t want to risk infection on the trip home which was great. He was also happy that his family and friends supported his decision. “I didn´t really get a lot of slack. Everybody understood and even my mom was happy I stayed in Germany. The last months in Germany gave me a chance to clear my head, reflect on myself and stay in shape. I always knew that the season would continue. I feel that if I would of returned home, it would of taken away my focus and I think I would have had a greater chance of catching the virus had I gone home”, stressed Lamont Jones. Staying in Germany also was positive, because he learned something else that he wouldn´t have had he gone back to the States. “The whole world was in shock and anxiety and I learned to become more patient. I got closer with myself and that was very good for myself”, warned Lamont Jones. Lamont Jones lives in a mall called Nordwest centrum where the Fraport Skyliners train and with most teammates back home and with COVID-19 in full effect and less people around, he could of become very lonely, but he wasn´t. He was lucky to have his brother around. Family has always been an important part in his life and it wasn´t any different during the Corona crisis. “Our relationship grew. For me having him around was an amazing time. I might have lost out on basketball, but had him around everyday to support me. We got a lot closer and talked about deeper things. Having him by my side put a lot in perspective for me. There are a lot of guys that don´t have family. But for us having each other was a real blessing warned Lamont Jones.
Jones did a good job staying fit and working on his game as best as he could, but also took in the whole COVID-19 crisis just like everyone else shacked up in Germany. At first the American didn´t take the Coronavirus serious, but as basketball leagues started to shut down, he sensed that this was a serious matter and something that would change the way we live. He was happy to be in Germany in a difficult time, because the people took the matter serious as a community and did the right things to stay safe. Even if his focus now is on the tournament in Munich to find the 2020 BBL champion, he does have an eye on next season as the transfer period will be one that nobody has ever witnessed before. “I´m not worried about the future of basketball, but next season. I have to take care of my family. It will be tough with lower budgets, but we have to adapt to the situation and understand that things happen in life. You may not be making what you did the season before, but players don´t always understand is that money isn´t what makes the game, but the love for it”, warned Lamont Jones. If Jones had gone home to the States, he would have had more family and possibly less time to discover new things that one does indoors, but being in Germany with his brother, he did have that mini family atmosphere, but also learned to do other things that he wouldn´t have done had COVID-19 not embarked on the world. “I think that the confinement and the situation always being in the house and not being able to do the normal things showed me that I didn´t need to be outside. I had so much fun being inside and doing things like reading. Now I know is that when the world opens up again, I can still do great things inside. I learned that I could adapt to things that I usually wouldn´t have done”, stressed Lamont Jones.
The American is a player that has seen a lot of basketball in his young life having played in Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Finland, Montenegro and Germany where he has suited up for the MHP Riesen, MBC and now Fraport Skyliners. He is one of those special players that takes a lot of pride in his game and has that immaculate work ethic that only few have. There were players that questioned the BBL finishing the season because of health risks, but for the American there was only one light he wanted to see and that was the green light. “For me it´s a business. I love that we can play again. We will be a part of history. I love the big stage and that all eyes will be on us. We as players have to take advantage of the situation. I also think playing these games ia a lot better than being stuck in the house for another 29 days”, warned Lamont Jones. The New York native also doesn´t buy the notion that the BBL and teams only had money in their thoughts and totally neglected the health issue. “Does anyone really care what is right or wrong in business? Important is how they get business done. Their approach is simple. How to make money and keep everything going, but at the same time to put the players in the safest possible environment. If everything pans out, then it was a brilliant move. If that happens then nobody will question it”, warned Lamont Jones. He does agree that not only the BBL needs a players union, but all other leagues in Europe. Some players criticized the BBL during COVID-19 for not having a voice in the decision making of the season being prolonged. “We are the product and need a voice. I think that if the players don´t have a say then the league won´t work as well. People who don´t play basketball won´t understand the player as well, but if a player can speak then they will be understood a lot better”, commented Lamont Jones.
Let´s rewind back a few months before COVID-19 struck and one saw an unsatisfactory season for the Fraport Skyliners as they had a 6-15 record and were 5 victories away from the eighth and final playoff spot. Jones is a player that won´t make excuses and despite the club having had the injury bug, the team still had their chances to have been a better team despite the circumstances. “I feel that we had some tough breaks with injuries as the basketball God wasn´t on our side. We fought well and had a chance to win a lot of games, but let some slip away. We were right there in many games, but can´t blame injuries on our loses. We had to have done a better job figuring things out on the fly. It was a constant emotional battle. Now we can show everybody the type of team we could have been during the regular season. It is very exciting”, expressed Lamont Jones. 4-5 years ago the Fraport Skyliners under head coach Gordon Herbert were at their best on the defensive end allowing in the high 60´s in points on average, but this season have allowed 80 points per game, but still belong to the top 5 defensive team sin the BBL. “I think that we are one of the better defensive teams in the BBL. I think that in the last years you have found more teams like the Munich´s and Berlin´s who have stayed together for years and have guys that can score. Defense in the BBL is good, but players also have gotten better. I´m always trying to figure out ways how the defense can´t stop me”, stressed Lamont Jones. Last season the Fraport Skyliners couldn´t adjust to the physicality of the BBL and this season couldn´t rely on a full roster on a consistent basis. “I remember 2 years ago when I played Frankfurt, they had Mike Morrison in the middle who was a beast. Then add a Tez, Scrubb and Huff, and you have a lot of length and a good defensive squad. Teams change and so do coaches. This season we have a young rookie BBL coach with Sebastian Gleim who has managed us and has had to learn on the fly. I think our biggest problem this season on the defensive end has been not being able to get in rhythm with so many injuries”, warned Lamont Jones.
The biggest strength of Lamont Jones is his scoring abilitiy, but another strength is that he has a good knack for being able to adjust to a new coach. That is something that comes with the territory when you are a basketball globetrotter. Gleim gave the reigns to Lamont Jones to lead the team and the American has seen the young coach develop well this season. “Sebastian has become more patient. At the beginning, he had a lot of emotion and excitement. It was tough for him at the start as a first time BBL coach. But as the season went on, he became more patient and trusted us more and we trusted him more. It isn´t easy for an older player to have a younger coach. As an older player you want to say I know it and have more experience, but at the same time you need to know that he is your coach and just as smart as you are as a player”, said Lamont Jones. He has played with very many good basketball players in his career and one of those guys when all is said and done where Jones will say “Tez” belongs in my best teammates of all-time list. The way a Gordon Herbert can rave about a Jordan Theodore or Johannes Richter, Jones will rave about a Quantez Robertson. “I love Tez. He is the man. He is up there neck in neck with Marcus Hatten as my best teammate of all-time. As an older guy, Tez isn´t greedy at all. He doesn´t say this is his show or say we do it my way. He is like a brother I never had. He allows you to learn and is an all around great guy. When my brother came, he showed him around town. He is like family and the main reason why I joined the Fraport Skyliners”, expressed Lamont Jones. He has profited very much from Robertson at both ends of the court. “He is vocal and has taught me to talk more on defense. On offense he has taught me to slow down the game and use different paces”, stressed Lamont Jones.
This season with the Fraport Skyliners Jones is averaging 17,4ppg, 2,3rpg, 4,8apg and 1,1spg. Even though he is a shooting guard, he has played point guard before and was trust into the playmaker role this season when starting point guard Anthony Hickey went down right before the season opened. He had his best assist average in Europe and misses the position now with the arrival of Joe Rahon. “I love to play point guard. I never got a chance before because I can score. I have no problem passing and reading the defense. It has been fun leading the team. I have really enjoyed it and would love to do it more”, warned Lamont Jones. Of course with the club losing a lot more than it was used to, he did get criticized at times, but people forgot that it wasn´t his normal position and the scorer in him usually got the best of him. “Knowing when to finish and when to pass was difficult in certain moments, because naturally I´m a scorer. This a lot of the time kicked in in crunch-time as the scoring instinct took over. I think this will gel more when I play the point more”, stressed Lamont Jones. The American has demonstrated everywhere he has balled that he is a lethal scorer, but that first professional title still has eluded him. Even if the Fraport Skyliners are an underdog to win the 2020 BBL title, his hunger to finally win that first chip is huge as he knows anything is possible in this unusual tournament in Munich. “I´m very hungry and motivated to win the title in Munich. I´m very excited to play in Munich and many don´t understand that the title is right there to get. I think that whoever fights and wants it the most will get it”, said Lamont Jones. With a lot of time on his hands in Munich, he will have time to look back on his only title that he won with Iona in 2013 with the MAC tournament. He beat Manhatten 60-57 in the final scoring 14 points which got them a NCAA tournament date with Ohio State which they would lose. If he does look back on that 2013 MAC title win, he won´t throw in the tape, but relive the game only in his mind. “I have never watched the final again. I haven´t watched many of my college games. I will save that game for when all is said and done with my career and really enjoy it. I have all my tapes. There will be a point in time where I will watch all of them”, warned Lamont Jones. He remembers the last seconds against Manhatten in the final well, but also has very fond memories of beating Niagara in the semi-finals as he got an introduction to real trash talking and had to put up with a very prominent fan heckler of ex New York Knick great Anthony Mason who was supporting son Antoine. “They had the ball and had the last shot and I secured the rebound. It was an amazing feeling. We had a huge New York rivalry with Manhatten. In the semi-finals against Niagara, I talked trash with Anthony Mason. It is an epic memory and winning after hearing from Mason that I couldn´t get it done”, stressed Lamont Jones.
Now with the Munich tournament looming closer and closer, Lamont Jones won´t have to deal with an Anthony Mason or any other fan hecklers, because all the teams will experience something totally knew with very quiet arena´s. “It´s tough to play without fans, but we are professional´s and have a job to do. We play scrimmage games all the time without fans. We will have to motivate ourselves and play as best as we can without fans”, commented Lamont Jones. There are only two groups with 5 teams a piece. No group is a cake walk as the Fraport Skyliners will battle Alba Berlin, Bamberg, Ludwigsburg, and Vechta. Despite the tough group, Lamont Jones is extremely confident that his team will be able to get the job done. “You will see a very hungry team. We know that many are counting us out, but we are ready to play. You will see good basketball. I have a great feeling”, warned Lamont Jones. All the teams will be playing a lot of basketball in a short amount of time, but Jones isn´t worried about the risk of injury at all. “You have to take care of yourself. The NBA is always playing a lot of games. This is our job. We will have everything that we need to our disposal in the hotel. The teams will make sure that we get the needed treatment. If it isn´t taken seriously, then there will be a higher risk of injury. But There is always a risk of injury in every game. You can´t think about it. You just have to go out and play and not be scared to play”, said Lamont Jones. Frankfurt has picked up 2 players to help fortify their roster with young talented Lithuanian big man Gytis Masiulis and top BBL defender Yorman Polas Bartolo. The latter could be the key to stepping up their defense a notch. “Bartolo is a strong defensive minded player that is an animal on the court. I´m very excited to be his teammate. He is like a Tez for me”, stated Lamont Jones. The American says that key to being successful in Munich is rebounding, defending and closing out games. He also knows that he will spend a lot of time in the hotel where all other 9 times will be crammed into. Even if his main focus is winning the title, he was quick to mention 2 players who he would like to get to know better. “I wouldn´t mind getting to know Ricky Paulding better and also Petteri Koponen of Munich. I had interactions with him in Finland on the court and he seems like a cool dude. He is one of the best shooters that I have ever seen. He can really shoot the ball”, added Lamont Jones. 3 weeks will be a long time to be holed up in the same hotel and it won´t be tough for him seeing his peers on a regular basis, but knowing that his mind will only be on one thing. “It will be cool being in the same hotel with everyone, but I´m not here to make any friends. I will mostly stay to myself. I´ll have a couple of laughs, but I´m mainly here for business”, warned Lamont Jones. Fraport Skyliners fans wouldn´t want it any other way, as Lamont Jones has 3 weeks to prove if he had had the right business approach.