Milton-Jones Still Contributing, Even from Sidelines

By Jordan Watters, Media Relations Intern

WNBA Champion? Check. WNBA All-Star? Check. Olympic gold medalist? Check. All-around women’s basketball legend? Check!

Delisha Milton-Jones is a 16-year WNBA veteran with a wealth of passion and knowledge for the game of basketball. After a midseason trade to the Atlanta Dream from the New York Liberty, she felt a sense of relief and renewed peace.

“Being able to come home, be reunited with Coach Michael Cooper, Coach Karleen Thompson, and Teresa Edwards — who I played with on the 2000 Olympic Team — it was the icing on the cake,” Milton-Jones said. “I was familiar with everyone, and they were familiar with me. It was a natural fit.”

Indeed she was welcomed with open arms by the Dream community. However, a right Achilles tendon injury during her second game with the team caused her to miss the remainder of the regular season.

“It’s disappointing every day that I am not out there on the court,” Milton-Jones said. “But, I feel in my heart and soul that your presence can be felt far beyond what you do when you’re on the court getting minutes.”

Milton-Jones has made it a priority to give energy and motivation to her teammates despite being unable to play alongside them. Her veteran leadership on the sidelines at practice and in the games is remarkable.

“There are moments where a voice is needed,” Milton-Jones said. “And if it can’t come from any of them, and there is a look of confusion, then who is going to be the leader to step up and say the tough things? I feel like that is where I come into play.”

She has also embraced the unofficial position of a player-coach.

“I think it’s one that wasn’t necessarily given to me, but it’s one that comes with my experience,” she said. “And Coop wants me to just be me. With being me, he knows that I am vocal, and he knows that I am not afraid to say the tough things. If it’s for me to get on my teammate, and demand more out of them, he knows that I will do it.”

The connection between Coach Cooper and Milton-Jones dates back to 1999, when he was one of her coaches and she was a rookie in the league. His mentorship has impacted her in numerous ways.

“He’s shown me how to be statuesque, classy, and professional,” she said. “And he’s shown me how to be tenacious, nasty, energized, and a motivator. You don’t get that from a coach.”

All of these fundamentals contribute to Milton-Jones’ success over the years. While she has an extensive player résumé, there is another position that would suit her very well, too: coaching. Even though it is currently not on her radar, she stated, “I do have a very high interest in coaching.”

Regardless of what the future may hold for Milton-Jones, her talent, demeanor and years of experience continue to influence masses. She is undoubtedly recognized as a legend in women’s basketball.