Liberty’s Jonquel Jones: ‘New York was where I wanted to be’
Even before news broke that WNBA superstar Breanna Stewart was headed to New York to play for the Liberty, Jonquel Jones was already excited to begin the next phase of her career in the Big Apple. After learning Stewart was joining, well, she was over the moon.
“Right now I’m like, you know, I’m just having jitters right now,” Jones said in a phone interview with amNewYork. “Just really ready to go and just go out on the field with them. Not even just to play a game, but to start practicing and really see how all the pieces fit together. I am very confident that we will be able to win games. Just being able to go out there together and play together and feel each other out and everything like that.”
Jones had been the first major offseason addition the Liberty had made when they embarked on a massive trade with the Connecticut Sun and Dallas Wings to bring Jones to New York. And Liberty had been the only place Jones had wanted to play.
The 2021 WNBA MVP confirmed to amNewYork that she had told the Sun that New York was where she wanted to go. Jones has one year left on her contract, which she will now play alongside Stewart and Liberty star Sabrina Ionescu.
“Definitely, New York was where I wanted to be,” Jones said. “There were no other discussions where I wanted to be. And so it was almost obvious the city and as everybody knows, New York is a big central place for basketball and everything you can do off the court. But the trajectory of Liberty and the way the organization was slowly changing and turning into just a quality organization.
“I saw what (coach Sandy Brondello) and (assistant coach Olaf Lang) and the rest of the staff, and the front office, did last year and I knew with some more talent and some more players they had a lot. pieces here that can come together and really make something special happen.”
January 20, 2023; Jonquel Jones arrives at the Barclays Center for the first time to be officially introduced as a member of the New York Liberty in Brooklyn, NY.Brandon Todd/New York Liberty
The 2021 WNBA MVP averaged 14.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game last season as the Connecticut Sun reached the WNBA Finals. She has averaged 13.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists while shooting over 50% during her career.
Where Jones really shines is the versatility she brings to the Liberty, and she doesn’t expect that to change once she steps onto the Barclays Center court. The 6’6″ forward said she has already worked with Lang and talked to Brondello about what to expect next season.
Off the court what has made the Liberty so attractive has been the fact that they have been one of the organizations at the forefront of efforts to grow the WNBA. Owners Joe and Clara Wu Tsai have been part of new ownership groups that will come in and try to raise where the league is.
The Nets, who fall under the same corporate umbrella of BSE Global, also boast two superstars in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving who have been vocal in their support of the women’s game and the WNBA.
“I think it’s extremely important when you have guys like KD and Kyrie who are in a position where they can make a difference,” Jones said of their support. “Also in a position where their voice goes much further than our voice. I think it’s important that they do what they’re doing and I’m very happy to say that we have guys like that playing for our men’s team that really care about the growth of women’s basketball. I think with Kobe (Bryant) gone we need more, more guys to step in and really just help us grow the league because Kobe was definitely a champion of that.”
Jones is already starting to make her way in the community. On Wednesday, Jones was in the Bronx working with high school students on their basketball skills. The New York basketball star is now planning to take advantage of her new surroundings and make an impact in the community.
She hasn’t decided where she’ll sink her teeth, but she’s quickly headed to the Brooklyn area.
“Before I came here, I never would have thought that I would have that sense of community so strongly in such a big city, but being in Brooklyn, I definitely feel it,” Jones said. “I’m definitely going to take my time and really get to know the people in the area and really try to figure out where I can affect change.”
For more Liberty coverage, visit amNewYork.