Jalen Jones Will Never Forget His First NBA Game Against Lebron James And Thinking I Worked My Whole Life To Get Here And Now I´m Here

Jalen Jones (201-G/F-1993, college: Texas A&M) is a 29 year old 201cm forward from Dallas, Texas playing his seventh professional season and first with U-Banca Transilvania Cluj Napoca (Romania-Liga Nationala) after having began the season with Hapoel B Cure Lazxr Haifa (Israel-Winner League). He played in the NBA for parts of 2 seasons playing a total of 32 NBA games with the New Orleans Pelicans, Dallas Mavericks and Cleveland Cavaliers. He also played in the G-League with teams with Maine, Greensboro, Texas, and Capital City. He also has gathered overseas experience in countries like Spain, Italy and France. He began his basketball career at Kimball High School. He ten played 2 seasons with Southern Methodist University (NCAA) playing 62 games and finished with Texas A&M University (NCAA) playing a total of 64 games. He spoke to germanhoops.com before a Eurocup game against ratiopharm Ulm.

Thanks Jalen for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?

I am currently playing basketball in Romania for cluj. My basketball life is going amazing and I have really enjoyed playing basketball here in cluj and I’m having a lot of fun.

From 1-10 how much do you love the grind? Your playing your 7th season and have played for more than 14 clubs, been with various NBA teams and just keep going?

10.I love the sacrifices, pain, suffering, and dedication etc. My hunger to want to always get better has never left from me despite the downfalls in my career. I just love the game and I put my heart and soul into it.

Since the 2020-2021 season you have been overseas. Is the NBA still an option for you at age of 29? Or are you focusing 100% on overseas now?

I mean my main focus now is to help Cluj win as many games as possible right now. I’m not sure what the future holds but I like to just take it one day at a time and whatever is meant to be will be.

Your playing your first season with U-Banca Transilvania Cluj Napoca (Romania-Liga Nationala). You recently won your first chip as a professional. It took a long time. How big do you rate that experience with everything you have seen in your pro career?

It was a an amazing experience for me and to share that championship with these guys on this team is special because I really love playing with the guys here on this team.

There are quite a few veterans on the team including Pat Richard. What has it been like sharing the court with him. He has been grinding for so long. What have you appreciated most about him?

He’s just a great person to be around and a very selfless individual. We have built a special bond together since I’ve arrived in Cluj and playing on the court with him has been really fun.

U-Banca Transilvania Cluj Napoca (Romania-Liga Nationala) was recently in the news with Karel Guzman. How did you experience it and was it as dramatic was seen by the media?

It was just an unfortunate situation and Karel is an amazing teammate and a great guy off the court as well.

You began the season with Hapoel B Cure Lazxr Haifa (Israel-Winner League). Literally every American that I have interviewed have raved about Israel about the off court atmosphere. What did you enjoy about the competition and play most on the court?

I really loved the style of play in Israel and it’s also a lot of guys I have played against in some of my earlier years of playing which made it a lot of fun as well.

Last season you split time with Openjobmetis Varese (Italy-Serie A) averaging 14.1ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.0apg, 2FGP: 51.7%, 3FGP: 32.4%, FT: 77.4%, in Jan.’22 moved to JL Bourg Basket (France-Betclic ELITE ProA) averaging 10.2ppg, 4.3rpg, FGP: 60.4%, 3PT: 34.7%, FT: 79.2%. How did you experience 2 of the top leagues in Europe. As usual you were able to play your game and shine with it.

It was a lot of fun to be able to experience both in the same season. The leagues both have two different styles of basketball so it was nice to be able to adjust to both of the leagues.

In Bourg you were teammates with NBA champion Norris Cole. What was it like sharing the court with a guy that had won it all with Lebron James. Did you feel comfortable having that NBA flair around you?

Yeah It felt great to have Norris join the team and we would always talk about some of our experiences in the NBA and he would tell about his experience being a champion in the NBA. Norris is my guy.

In 2020-2021 as Covid hit, you signed with Varese but had season ending surgery. How tough was this season for you? What did you learn about yourself in these tough times off the court? –

It was one of the toughest moments in my life to be honest. It was my first major injury of my career and it was one of the worst injuries you don’t want to get being a professional basketball player. It took me some time to get back to my normal self, but with the help of god, family, and friends I was able to get back to myself.

You played in the NBA and G-League from 2016-2019 and began in the Boston Celtics organization and had a great season in Maine averaging 20.6ppg, 9.0rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 51.1%, 3PT: 34.8%, FT: 74.6%. What do you remember being your wake up call to being a rookie and playing in the G-League? –

My wake up call was the very first D league game I played in and I just saw how everybody wanted to make the NBA so bad and how guys were so hungry out there on the court to reach their dreams.

You really had a great G-League season, but never got a NBA call up. Was it difficult getting a fair chance as a rookie with the competition with guys like Jae Crowder, Jaylen Brown and Gerald Green and others? – Did you ever get feedback from the Celtics about your situation?

Yeah it was very difficult I got invited to training camp with the Celtics, but never really got that opportunity in training camp to prove myself. Then I went to the D-league and had a really great season and got no call- ups. After not getting a call up I thought to myself what do I have to do to make it. After all those tough situations I had to keep pushing to reach my dreams. The Celtics were always in contact with my agents but I think they just had other players on their mind.

In 2017-2018 you finally made your NBA debut with the Pelicans while also playing in the G-League and later playing games for the Dallas Mavericks. You played 3 minutes in a win over the Cavs and Lebron James and Dwayne Wade. What memories do you have of your first NBA game?

I was just shocked like I’m actually playing in a real NBA game lol. I was just thinking to my self during the game like I worked my whole life to get this point and now I’m here.

You were on a team that had young stars in the making with Jru Holiday and Anthony Davis, but also real older guys like Jameer Nelson and Tony Allen. Which player do you remember having the biggest impact on you?

Tony Allen for sure. He was the coolest vet I had the pleasure of being around. He gave me so many tips and things to stay a professional. He was also just a really great person.

You also played with the Dallas Mavericks. You had some real good games against Brooklyn, Orlando and Phoenix. What was your fondest memory on the court?

I would probably have to say Brooklyn. It was just one of those NBA games I will never forget because I remember how hard I played in that game trying to prove myself.

You were more than fortunate to play with Dirk Nowitzki. Every player I have interviewed who could call themselves teammates have raved about him as a player and person. What personal story do can you share with him?

Dirk is just an amazing player and people person. He can get along with anyone. The memories I will always remember from him was just how cool he was when I first joined the team and making me feel right at home.

In 2018-2019 your NBA journey continued with the Cavs. You scored in double figures 3 times and when you got minutes showed your game and scored 15 points against your former team Pelicans. How good did it feel to show your ex team what your made of?

It was an amazing experience and it will be memories I will never forget from playing in the NBA. It was nice to have a good game against the team that gave me my first NBA contract.

Mid way through the season you came overseas for the first time playing with Kirolbet Baskonia Vitoria (ACB). You were far away from the NBA and logged only 12 minutes in the 3 game series against CSKA Moscow. Often NBA guys come over and lose perspective of how competitive any other league is. What example do you remember seeing where you knew the Euroleague was top basketball?

It was my very first Euroleague game where I was like wow the competitiveness is crazy here and everybody just plays so hard. I knew after my first game this was top of the line basketball.

How do you remember German big man Johannes Voigtman the special big with a great IQ and passing qualities. I always thought he had NBA game.

He’s a very talented basketball player. I mean he can do everything on the court and I thought he should’ve been in the NBA. But I loved playing on the court with him. He’s a great teammate and a very unselfish player.

In the 2019-2020 season you played with the at Capital City Go-Go (NBA G League) averaging 19.1ppg, 7.9rpg, 1.3apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 52.6%, 3PT: 36.5%, FT: 70.4%. You had a great consistent season. Did you feel like you were close to an NBA call up and did you lose a little faith in the NBA process after that? –

Yeah I definitely thought I deserved a call-up, but it didn’t happen and then covid hit so it was very disappointing and it hurt a lot. I’m still young and who knows what could happen in the future.

You began your NCAA career at SMU where you played from 2011-2013. In your second season the legendary Larry Brown was hired. How do you remember his coaching and teaching philosophy? You made a big jump in your game that season ?

His coaching style was very old school and he was really big on the little things so you had to be really focused at all times.

You finished your NCAA career at Texas A & M averaging 13.7ppg, 6.6rpg, FGP: 47.1%, 3PT: 30.0%, FT: 72.8% and 15.3ppg, 7.2rpg, FGP: 45.9%, 3PT: 32.4%, FT: 70.2%. How do you feel did your game grow in these 2 years?

I grew up so much in those two seasons playing at A&M and had so much fun doing it. I knew playing well in the SEC that I could one day have a shot at the NBA.

Both seasons you made NCAA tournament noise losing to Louisiana Tech and Oklahoma. What memories do you have of both runs and which loss was toughest?

The biggest memory that stands out to me about the tournament is when we came back from 12 points down with 44 seconds left to win the game in double overtime to reach the sweet sixteen. The toughest lost is when we lost in the sweet sixteen my senior year.

You were teammates with Danuel House and Alex Caruso who later also went to the NBA. Are these 2 dudes brothers for life? How special were these 2 guys as players?

Yeah they are definitely my brothers and they were both very special talents. House was a very dedicated individual in college who could take over a game at any moment. Caruso just had a natural feel for the game and was a very intelligent player who could defend at a high level.

How did head coach Billy Kennedy groom and prepare you best for a professional career?

He was just one of those coaches who let you be you. He didn’t try to change who you were. I think the way he allowed me to be me prepared me to be a professional.

Who won a 1-1 in practice you or Daniel House?

House was more of a game time player lol

Who was the toughest player that you face din the NCAA that reached the NBA?

Will Barton

Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?

Antwan Space, Jordan Green, Harrison Barnes, Arthur Edwards, and Dwight Powell

Please list your personal NBA Mount Rushmore with past or present heads?

Kobe, MJ, Lebron, and Shaq

What is your personal opinion in the debate of who is the greatest of all-time Jordan and Lebron and would Kobe be the GOAT if Jordan had come up?

Kobe is the greatest in my eyes because that’s who I grew up watching I didn’t grow up watching Jordan.

Did you see the sequel to the classic Coming To America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?

I still haven’t seen the sequel yet lol

Thanks Jalen for the chat.


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