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Lakers’ Forgotten Studs: Eddie Jones, the Silky Assassin – Fan’s Reflection

While Eddie Jones was Not a Part of the 2000-2002 Lakers Title Teams, His Role in Getting the Lakers Back to Championship Caliber Should Never Be Forgotten

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As a Los Angeles Lakers fan I am all for honoring legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jamaal Wilkes, and Shaquille O'Neal.

But there have been a number of standout Lakers over the years who will never have their numbers or statues erected in their honor - call them the Lakers' Forgotten Studs.

Today's installment: Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones - How the Lakers Won by Losing

The 1994 season was a disaster as the Lakers posted a 33-49 (.402) record and missed the playoffs for the first time in 17 years. The only silver lining from the season was the Lakers receiving the tenth pick in the NBA draft.

With that 1994 pick the Lakers selected Eddie Jones, a 6'6"smooth-as-silk shooting guard from Temple University.

Eddie Jones went on to spend four-plus electric seasons in Los Angeles before being traded to the Charlotte Hornets in 1999 in the deal that brought Glen Rice to the Lakers.

In those four-plus years, Eddie Jones became a fan favorite and a Laker who will always be respected.

A Rookie Unleashed

As a rookie in 1995 Eddie Jones immediately established himself as an impact player.

Jones started 58 of 64 games as a rookie and put solid numbers that landed him on the NBA All-Rookie 1st Team:

Eddie Jones, 1995 Rookie Season: 14.0 PTS, 3.9 REB, 2.0 AST, 2.0 STL, 46% FG, 37% 3-PT

Jones proved immediately he could do it all - score, slash, dunk in transition, hit the three, come up with steal in the passing lane, and lock up his man on defense.

With Eddie in the lineup the Lakers improved by 15 games in 1995 to 48-34 (.585) and beat the Seattle SuperSonics 3-1 in their first round playoff series.

Lakers fans like me felt a great deal of optimism in 1995, and our brightest source of hope was the young, talented Eddie Jones.

Eddie the All-Star

In the four-plus years he played for the Lakers, Eddie Jones put up sold all-around stats:

Eddie Jones, Lakers Career (1995-1999): 15.2 PTS, 3.8 REB, 3.0 AST, 2.1 STL, 46% FG, 38% 3-PT

With Eddie flourishing and the Lakers winning, the NBA rewarded him with back-to-back All-Star selections in 1997 and 1998.

During his time in Los Angeles Eddie Jones established himself as one of the premier defensive players in the league. He finished in the Top-10 in the NBA in steals per game in each of his first six seasons in the league. His 1,620 career steals rank 23rd on the NBA's all-time list.

Jones was selected to the NBA's All-Defensive 2nd Team in both 1998 and 1999.

His defensive prowess was complimented by his consistent scoring and his ability to stretch the defense with his 3-point shot. Jones finished eighth in the NBA in 3-point field goals in 1998 and his 1,546 career 3's ranks 12th on the NBA's all-time list.

What I Loved About Eddie

As a Lakers fan I loved everything about Eddie Jones.

I loved how he could dominate a game without dominating the spotlight. I loved how he masked his fierce competitiveness underneath his calm demeanor. I loved how he did whatever it took to win, whether that meant scoring 30 points or shutting down his opponent on the defensive end.

I loved how Lakers fans would chant "Ehh-DEE! Ehh-DEE! Ehh-DEE!" during home games.

Heck, I even loved his pencil-thin mustache.

Eddie Jones had athleticism that still gives me chills today. He almost reminded me of a graceful, powerful big cat, as if a jaguar took on a human form. I loved watching him stalk a passing lane like a jaguar stalking its prey, then springing to make the steal and exploding to the rim for a monster dunk, displaying grace and power that seemed more feline than human.

If you don't know what I mean, just watch these videos courtesy of Kelly Dwyer's Ball Don't Lie blog.

A Bitter Sweet Trade

Despite his success, Eddie Jones' career in Los Angeles would be cut short by Kobe Bryant.

Kobe came off the bench in 1997 and 1998, but by the 1999 season he was ready for primetime.

The Lakers simply could not keep both Eddie Jones and Kobe Bryant together. They played the same position in nearly the same way. The Lakers chose Kobe, of course, and traded Eddie to the Charlotte Hornets in March of 1999 in a deal that brought Glen Rice to Los Angeles.

It was Glen Rice who helped lift the Lakers in 2000 to a 67-15 (.817) record and their first of their three consecutive NBA championships.

Without Glen Rice there may not have been a title in 2000. And without Eddie Jones as a tradable asset, Glen Rice probably does not become a Laker.

While Eddie Jones was not around to enjoy the Lakers' 2000, 2001, or 2002 titles, he was a major contributor in preparing the way for several years of Laker dominance.

Jones was a classy but fearless competitor. I have liked a lot of Lakers over the years, but I respected Eddie Jones.

For all that he did - and all that he was - Eddie Jones should never be forgotten by Lakers fans.

Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Lakers fan. For more from this author, visit Andrew's archive or check these out articles:

Lakers' Forgotten Studs: Rick Fox, Ultimate Role Player

Lakers' Forgotten Studs: Nick Van Exel and His Killer Swagger

Lakers' Forgotten Studs: Cedric Ceballos, Scoring Machine

Lakers' Forgotten Studs: Sedale Threatt Owned the NBA From 1992-1994

Lakers' Forgotten Studs: Elden Campbell and the Lefty Dunk

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