Speaking on Olympic Channel show 'The Corner', the Harlem-born baller talks about working with young offenders in New York, and how he plans to lead USA to gold at Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The 32-year-old is USA’s official No. 1 ranked player, but his journey to the top has been anything but straightforward.
Jones’s biography on the FIBA website features his favourite mantra ‘Heart over height’, and the 5-foot-9 (1.75m) guard’s impressive stats indicate that he lives up to those words.
“It came from being turned down a lot,” he told Olympic Channel.
“I wasn’t the most athletic and I wasn’t dunking on anyone on the court. So I worked on perfecting my craft, so that I became unguardable." - Dominique Jones to Olympic Channel's The Corner.
“It took a lot of nos for people to tell me yes. I just used that as motivation.”
Olympic Channel spoke to him about his amazing journey in the sport, as well as his work in the community in the latest episode of The Corner.
Nicknamed ‘Disco Domo’ by his teammates, Jones enjoyed a successful 5x5 basketball career with the Harlem Globetrotters before playing in Europe.
He really had no interest in playing 3x3, until he tried out the sport one rainy day.
“I’d just finished playing in Germany and I was coming back from injury, so I was hesitant to playing 3x3 as I just wanted to get back overseas (playing 5x5),” he continued.
“I had a summer league basketball game, but it got rained out. My team manager said come do it as I’d enjoy it. I did it and I fell in love with 3x3 after that.” - Dominique Jones to Olympic Channel
He joined the NY Harlem team on the FIBA 3x3 World Tour and led them to the 2019 finals - winning the VMP award that season with an average of 7.4 points per game.
“We went to over 20 different countries showcasing our talent and we needed that opportunity,” he said.
“We showed we can compete with the best of them. We’ve been on tour for five or six years now and got a lot of second places, so to finally get that tour victory got a big hump off our back.
His performances led to an international call-up for the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, where USA won gold in the first-ever 3x3 competition.
The 3x3 version of basketball is played on a half-sized court, and made shots from within the arc count as one point, with two points for shots made from outside the arc. Games are either 10 minutes long or first to 21 points, whichever comes first.
The game is fast, intense and fans at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will see some of the fittest athletes on show.
“It’s non stop motion so you have to be in great shape, when you get tired you have to really fight,” Jones said.
“Secondly, you have to know how to defend. There’s little tweaks and turns and screens and slips that you have to be prepared for offensively and defensively. You are under more scrutiny in 3x3 so talking and communication is vital.
“Physically it’s a little different. You’ll get bumps here and there and you have to prepare to take them physically and mentally. It’s an epic sport and I love everything about it. I like to call it a 10 minutes sprint. You don’t have time to think so you have to just move on the fly.”
Jones’s amazing work isn’t just on the basketball court.
He also works at the Rising Ground Juvenile Justice secure facility in the Bronx, drawing on his own rough upbringing to help rehabilitate young offenders.
It's clear that his work in the community gives him the same satisfaction as scoring hoops for the USA.
“It’s the simple fact that they’re listening,” he said of the children he works with.
“It (rehabilitation) doesn't happen in a day. It’s over a course of time and hopefully these things stick through when we are talking to them, trying to teach them how to be responsible and how to grow up.
“Some of these kids are 17 and are about to become legally adults so we try to steer them away from that life they had before. When you get a record it’s hard to get a decent job.
“So that’s my main thing, just stressing the importance of the difference between a doctor or lawyer or just being a criminal, the choice is yours and you have to use every day to make yourself better and put positive energy out into the world. We have to be better than we were yesterday.”