Connecticut Sun forward Asjha Jones has been one of the top players at her position for almost a decade. Slowed by injuries that forced her to miss numerous games the last two years, Jones has regained her All Star form so far in 2011, serving as a veteran leader on a young team.
Recently, Jones took a few minutes after practice to discuss her play in 2011.
You are off to a great start. It looks like you are finally feeling completely healthy. How much did not playing overseas help you coming into this season?
I think that based on the way I ended the season last year, there is no way I would be healthy right now if I went overseas this offseason. So I made the choice to give that up and be healthy for the summer.
You have been a premier forward in this league for a long time. After being bogged down by injuries the last two years, did you feel any extra motivation this season to come in and reassert yourself?
Yes, definitely. I have two goals. I have a goal for this season to be really good, and (I have a goal) to try and make the USA Team. Neither one of those goals are going to happen if I am not healthy. So my ultimate goal is just to be healthy and make sure I am here for my team and, in turn, thats going to make me a better player.
When you are going through what you have gone through the last two years, does it make you appreciate being healthy?
(Laughs) Definitely. Not being able to move like you want to move, its really frustrating when you cant do things youre used to doing. For me, just giving up the offseason was an easy decision. Not to go overseas, not to make that money overseas, was easy for me because I think my career would have ended early if I didnt do that. It definitely would have been shortened.
You have been here since 2004, and played on a lot of great playoff teams, including two teams that went to the WNBA Finals. What does this current Sun team, which is still very young, have to do to reach that level?
I think its just being more consistent on defense. We show great moments, but I think we have the ability to be the best defensive team weve ever had here in Connecticut, and right now, were just not doing it for 40 minutes. We show it sometimes, here and there, but I think when we get to the point where we can play great defense for a whole game, well be really good.
Obviously, you still have plenty of basketball left in you, but you have also been busy planning for your post-basketball career. How have you enjoyed your experience starting Takera Shoes? How is it going?
Its been a very different experience for me. Im used to playing basketball in the States, or in other countries. But Ive never had to be on the business end of any of this. I usually leave that to other people. But for me, in the offseason, not playing basketball gave me an opportunity to get involved in business and learn it from the ground up. I think more women need to be pro-active in their post-basketball career, so I tried to start early. Im not saying Im going to retire soon, but I wanted to start early enough where Ill have something to fall back on once my career is over. Right now, we have my shoes in stock. Theyre available. www.Takerashoes.com. Its been a great journey for me just learning something different and trying to grow and mature as an adult.