Liberty’s Jonquel Jones: ‘New York was where I wanted to be’
Even before the news that WNBA superstar Breanna Stewart was heading to New York to play for the Liberty, Jonquel Jones was already excited to kick off the next phase of her career in the Big Apple. After learning that Stewart would be joining, well, she was over the moon.
“Now I’m just like, you know, I’m just a little nervous right now,” Jones said in a phone interview with amNewYork. “Just really, really just ready to go and just get on the court with them. Not even just to play a game, but to start practicing and really see how all the pieces fit together. I’m very confident that we we’re going to be able to win games. Just being able to go out together and play together and feel and stuff like that.
Jones had been the first major offseason addition the Liberty made when they entered into a massive trade with the Connecticut Sun and Dallas Wings to bring Jones to New York. And the Liberty had been the only place Jones had wanted to play.
The 2021 WNBA MVP confirmed to amNewYork that she 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 pretty much obviously the city and as everyone knows, New York being a great center for basketball and everything you can do off the court. But Liberty’s trajectory and how the organization was slowly changing and even transforming into a quality organization.
“I saw what (head coach Sandy Brondello) and (assistant coach Olaf Lang) and the rest of the staff did, and the front office, last year and I knew that with a little more talent and other players they had a lot of the pieces here that could come together and really do something special.
January 20, 2023; Jonquel Jones arrives at 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 averaged 13.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists while shooting above 50% during her career.
Where Jones really excels is the versatility she brings to Liberty and she doesn’t expect that to change once she steps onto the Barclays Center pitch. The 6’6″ forward said she was already working with Lang and spoke to Brondello about what to expect for the upcoming season.
Away from the court, what made the Liberty so appealing was the fact that they were one of the organizations at the forefront of the WNBA’s growth. Owners Joe and Clara Wu Tsai were among the new ownership groups to come in and try to elevate the league.
The Nets, which fall under the same entity as BSE Global, also have two superstars, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who have expressed their support for women’s soccer and the WNBA.
“I think that’s hugely important when you have guys like KD and Kyrie who are in a position where they can make changes,” Jones said of his support. “Also in a position where their voices carry much further than ours ever could. I think it’s important that they do what they do and I’m really happy to say that we have guys like that playing for our men’s team who 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 help us grow the league because Kobe was definitely a champion of it.
Jones has already started making her way into the community. On Wednesday, Jones was in the Bronx working with college kids on their basketball skills. The now New York basketball star plans to enjoy his new surroundings and make an impact in the community.
She hasn’t decided where she’s going to tackle yet, but she soon made her way to the Brooklyn neighborhood.
“Before coming here, I never thought I would have this strong sense of community in such a big city, but being in Brooklyn, I really feel it,” Jones said. “I’m definitely going to take my time and really, really get to know the people in the area and really try to figure out where I can influence change.”
For more Liberty coverage, visit amNewYork.