Hawks guard Dahntay Jones has mounted an aggressive campaign in clearing his name with the same relentlessness he defended Kobe Bryant in the Lakers’ 96-92 loss Wednesday to Atlanta.
Bryant insinuated Jones intentionally positioned himself so he’d land on his foot in the finals seconds of a play that led the Lakers star to suffer a severely sprained right ankle that will sideline him indefinitely. Jones has taken his case both on Twitter and on an appearance with SiriusXM’s Adam Schein on Mad Dog Radio channel to explain otherwise.
Below is a portion of Jones’ interview.
Adam Schein: “What is your reaction to everything that has transpired?”
Dahntay Jones: “After the game I felt bad and heard the responses and things of that nature, that he sprained his ankle. After I turned around on the play I saw that he was hurt and I thought that I did hurt him. We went in the locker room and looked at it and when we looked at it from three different angles it looked as if he came down on the floor but my foot was behind where he came down on. And I didn’t feel him come down on my ankle so I never thought he came down on my foot. And usually when shooters come down on your foot they come down on the top of your foot and that’s how they roll [their] ankle. So I felt bad.
That’s why I kept looking at the play to make sure I didn’t do anything wrong. And I wasn’t trying to walk up under him. I was trying to contest the jump shot and my job as a defender is to make people uncomfortable and to challenge shots. I had an iso with eight seconds. I was trying to get him to go where I wanted him to. He pulls up and does a fadeaway and his leg kick I ran into and it made him come down awkwardly. That’s how the play went. But I wasn’t trying to walk up under him. It’s very hard to time somebody’s foot, to walk under someone’s foot and do things of that nature when the game is on the line.”
Schein: “Were you surprised by Kobe’s reaction?”
Jones: “I was surprised but he’s dealing with the pain, he’s dealing with the injury and he’s a competitor. I just wanted to do my job and just try to contest the shot. It was a fadeaway. When guys shoot fadeaways you’re not just supposed to let them go, you’re supposed to keep playing and try and get as close as possible to be able to challenge the shot. I didn’t want to give up on the play. I wanted to make sure I was there so he would at least see me and feel me. I didn’t have a chance to worry about his landing. I didn’t want to hurt him and get in the middle of his landing but I was just trying to contest the shot.”
Schein: “What went through your mind when he said he felt like you ‘Jalen Rose’d’ him and there was intent to injure one of the star players in all of sports?”
Jones: “That’s very disheartening and that’s not the way I play the game right now. Obviously, we had two incidents that happened in the Western Conference Finals and those two were totally separate from what’s happening now. We played 48 minutes of basketball and we didn’t have any instances there at that point in time. It’s just the last shot just happened to come down with an unfortunate incident. I didn’t try to do anything to hurt him. I have too much respect for him to try to hurt him.”
Schein: “Have you reached out to Kobe?”
Jones: “Only on social media. I don’t have his number. I reached out to try to let him know that that wasn’t malicious at all.”
Schein: “What was your reaction when you heard Kobe say he wants revenge?”
Jones: “That’s nothing I was worried about. That’s a year from now. I was just more into the fact to see if he did come [down] on my foot because I didn’t want to hurt him at all.”
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