The playing days of Brooklyn Nets assistant coaches, longtime NBA journeymen and former Denver Nuggets teammates Popeye Jones and Doug Overton are well behind them, but as their feats and triumphs begin to fade with time, a resurgence of talent that hits close to home is deep in the making. The 1999 signing of Jones to the Nuggets coincidentally had a grander impact on his son Seth’s professional career than his own. While residing in the snowy city of Denver had its hindrances due to the unkind temperatures and icy highways leading into town, Seth took to a different sport than that of his father. “We lived in Denver for eight years and it first started with his older brother (Justin),” said Jones. “They were playing roller hockey with other kids in the neighborhood and once it started getting cold in Denver, because we moved to Denver in August of ’99, the kids go inside and play ice hockey. My kids wanted to try, and then off we went to the store. Seth was a little fellow, probably about 4 years old, tailing along and he got some skates and a stick and some equipment also.”
Seth Jones Rumors
“These are players you can build your team around,” said NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr and his staff according to Predators.com. “We think Seth’s game is still going to develop, as are [Nathan] MacKinnon and [Jonathan] Drouin, but we had no reason to remove Seth from that No. 1 spot.” Jay-Z has also taken a strong interest in Seth’s future, wanting to be involved in his potential branding and marketing appeal via Roc Nation Sports (a partner of CAA Sports who also represents Popeye). Being from a mixed background but predominately seen as an African-American, Seth has the probability of being the Tiger Woods of hockey. His impact is limitless, and Jay-Z would love to strike a deal. “When Seth comes to the NHL Draft (in Newark, NJ) in June, his family, agents at CAA and Roc Nation are going to have a powwow to see if he’ll sign with them,” a source told Page 6 of the New York Post.
Seth Jones probably should have wound up a basketball player. He is tall, with a great vertical leap, and his father is Popeye Jones, who played 11 years in the N.B.A. and is now an assistant coach with the Nets. But instead, Seth Jones, 18, is projected to be a top pick in the N.H.L. draft and may be on his way to becoming hockey’s first African-American star. “I’d be shocked myself if I heard a story like that,” Jones said, when asked if people are surprised by the combination of a basketball father and a hockey son. “Me and my two brothers all play hockey, so it was weird, I guess, that none of us played basketball.”
On the ice he is a commanding presence, a hard hitter. But more often he is the rare defenseman who can control a game’s tempo with his stickhandling and passing — a “full-package defenseman,” in the words of Phil Housley, the United States coach. Probably not what anyone expected from a son of Popeye Jones. “No one wants to live in their father’s footsteps,” Seth Jones said this week when the United States team held a three-day training camp at the Rangers’ practice rink in Greenburgh, N.Y., before heading to Europe. “I think the time will come when I stop getting those questions and everyone knows the story. That’s just my family and my background and part of my life.”
Jones acknowledged that the two sports did not have much in common, but said he learned from watching basketball players. “The persons I watched closely were Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd,” he said, recalling when his father was an assistant with the Dallas Mavericks. “You’d see Dirk back there behind the scenes taking jump shots before and after games, before and after practices. It just taught me to keep working hard when no ones’s watching, and the person you are behind the scenes is your true self.” Seth never played organized basketball, but some of Popeye’s basketball DNA seems to have rubbed off. “We played basketball in Ann Arbor a lot the last couple years, and he’s got a lot of talent,” said Brady Skjei, a United States teammate who spent two years with Jones at the National Team Development Program. “Great hands, a soft stroke, a terrific shot.” Jones said: “I actually am pretty good at basketball, I have to admit. I have a nice two-way game, I think.”