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Couple of basketball players
And yet, people will talk. People do talk. Milton-Jones, who played six years in Los Angeles and is in her ninth WNBA season, said friends have told her about the whispering that goes on.
“[Jones] gets a bad rap in this league,” she said. “When people see us always together, they always have their slick comments like, ‘Oh, he’s using her. He’s manipulating her. He’s just taking her money.’ ”
She was asked who is making such “slick comments.”
“The girls in the league,” Milton-Jones said. “I have friends in the league, and they’ll come back to me and say, ‘Dee, people are saying things about you and Roland.’ They just don’t understand. Do I need to show them my bank account to know he’s not taking my money?
“We support each other,” she said. “It doesn’t always have to be picture-perfect, how the man needs to be the breadwinner and the woman needs to be home, barefoot, pregnant, cleaning, with dinner on the table when the husband gets home. It’s not like that. Times are different.”
The one truly awkward moment occurred in 2005 when Milton-Jones was named interim coach of the Los Angeles Stars of the American Basketball League, a men’s pro league. Roland was one of her players, a reserve point guard. She already was working as an assistant, but the dynamic instantly changed when she took the top job.
“It was rather interesting,” she said.
From the start, Milton-Jones had to show the rest of the team she would not play favorites.
“We’d be in the car, and it would be like, ‘OK, have a good practice,’ ” she said. “Have a kiss and what-not, and then we’d get into the gym, and I’d be like a drill sergeant. ‘Roland, get on the line! Run!’ And this and that.
“The guys were looking at me like, ‘Hey, she’s dissing her husband.’ I’m like, ‘Right now, he’s the same as you are. He’s a player. So I don’t want you thinking I’m gonna treat him differently. I’m gonna be hard on him. Really hard on him. I’m gonna call him out for any and everything.’ ”
She laughed. “But it was a lot of fun,” she said.
Said Jones: “At one of the first practices we had, she looked at me and said, ‘Roland, if you can’t get in shape, you’re not gonna play for me.’ At first it was hard to bear. ‘You’re my wife.’ But you have to respect it. … It was strange, but on the flip side it was a blessing because she was standing behind me.”
Jones does more than make the bed and handle his wife’s personal appearances. He and Milton-Jones are set to play in Spain next season, and he was just invited to play for the Dominican Republic’s national team (his paternal grandmother is Dominican, he said). He works with Milton-Jones on her game, helping impart the skills he acquired as a guard.
“I don’t take credit for anything Dee has done, but one thing I will say, I’ve had the opportunity to go into the gym for five years and help mold a great basketball player,” he said. “I helped her expand her game. I help her work on her shot, help her work on her ball handling. I’m not a coach. I do what she’s doing. I have a workout partner.”
Jones grew up in Dallas and played two years at Cochise (Junior) College in Arizona, starting an odyssey filled with twists, turns and detours. According to Jones, he signed a letter of intent at Nebraska but left in a dispute over his scholarship. He then played a year at Division II Arkansas-Monticello but tore his ACL, found himself in a “bad situation” and left. Next, he took classes at Concordia University in Austin, Texas, but did not play, followed by half a season playing for Central Methodist University, an NAIA school in Missouri. Finally, he signed with Texas but was sent to a community college in Austin to make up credits, and then was found to have used up his eligibility.
By David Keene
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