Brooklyn Boro

Jones to face former Sun teammates

Liberty to host Connecticut at Barclays Center on Saturday

May 25, 2023 John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Jonquel Jones lost a pair of WNBA Finals, including just last year, with her former team, the Connecticut Sun.

Now, she’s in Downtown Brooklyn trying to grab that elusive crown with the New York Liberty, as well as this borough’s first pro sports championship since the 1955 Dodgers finally beat the hated Yankees.

Jones and her teammates will continue that quest Saturday afternoon at Barclays Center, when the Liberty host Connecticut to close out a two-game homestand.

“I am excited to be here. It’s a pleasure to say I’m a part of this organization. For me, last year, I saw a shift in the culture: the way they played high-octane, on both sides of the basketball,” Jones gushed in January after arriving here via a three-team trade with Dallas.

“I wanted to be a part of that,” she added. “I was in Connecticut for the entirety of my career. It was time for a change, time for a new chapter. I’m happy I chose New York. I’m happy they chose me.”-

The Liberty (1-1) are fresh off their first win following their impressive offseason haul, which also included two-time WNBA Most Valuable Player and Finals MVP Breanna Stewart and future Hall of Famer Courtney Vandersloot.

Jones grabbed league MVP honors in 2021, two years after falling to the Washington Mystics in her first Finals appearance. Last season, the Sun dropped a tough series to the champion Las Vegas Aces.

Originally drafted by Los Angeles in 2016, Jones was dealt to the Sun, who watched her blossom into one of the WNBA’s most formidable players.

The 29-year-old Freeport, Bahamas native is now a part of the league’s “Superteam” here in New York, just after the co-tenant Nets dissolved their bid for a similar structure with the additions of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving during the summer of 2019.

That superstar tandem won a single playoff series before Durant was jettisoned to Phoenix and Irving to Dallas in February.

“When I watched them play, it felt very much like a bunch of individual people doing their individual thing,” Jones told the New Yorker. “Didn’t seem like there was any cohesiveness to what they had going on.”

This team wants to be different. And Jones intends to be a big factor in the Liberty raising their first-ever championship banner from the Barclays rafters.

Jonathan Kolb brought Jonquel Jones to Brooklyn in January, hoping she could help lead New York to its first-ever WNBA title. AP Photo by Mary Altaffer

She scored 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting and grabbed three rebounds in New York’s home-opening 90-73 rout of visiting Indiana here last Sunday, a game that featured a franchise-record 45-point effort by fellow new addition Stewart.

Vandersloot added 11 points and eight rebounds and backcourt mate Sabrina Ionescu finished with nine points, eight boards and eight assists.

Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb, an early front-runner for Executive of the Year honors, knew that bringing Jones to Brooklyn would be the first step in re-building this team, which has made back-to-back first-round playoff exits.

Brooklyn fans, 8,575 of whom were roaring with delight on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush last weekend, should be looking forward to watching Jones take on her former teammates Saturday.

Kolb is admittedly a long-time fan of the 6-foot-6 forward.

“I’ve had a Jonquel jersey in my office for a year,” he revealed.

Now that jersey will have “Liberty” across the chest, and the undefeated Sun (3-0) will have to deal with the player that helped lead them to two WNBA Finals.

Juat ask them.

“Not just one person is going to be or to replace (Jonquel Jones),” said Connecticut forward Brionna Jones.

Fresh off a franchise-record 45-point performance, Liberty forward Breanna Stewart will try to lead the Liberty to their second straight win Saturday in Downtown Brooklyn. AP Photo by Terrance Williams

GIVE ME LIBERTY: After hosting the Sun, the Liberty will set out for a two-game road trip that will feature a pair of reunions. On Tuesday, Stewart will visit her former Seattle Storm teammates before Vandersloot will return to Chicago next Friday to go against the Sky, who she won the 2021 WNBA crown with. … New York will be back at Barclays to close out a home-and-home series with Chicago on June 4.

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