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Posts Tagged ‘BOK Center.’

Marion Jones makes WNBA debut; Tulsa Loses to Minnesota Lynx

compiled from staff, wire and Tulsa Shock info

Marion Jones arrived at the soldout BOK Center, home of the Tulsa Shock, where video cameras were waiting on her to get pictures of her as she walked in. Minutes later, she walked into an interview room to answer questions from reporters.

Then she went to the team shootaround and afterwards, she was so hyped-up that she couldn’t take a pregame nap.

But Marion Jones’ path to star-status in the WNBA will take awhile to achieve.

Marion Jones (WNBA)

The former Olympic track star had very limited playing time in her debut for the Tulsa Shock on Saturday night as the relocated from Detroit, Michigan team lost their inaugural game in their new hometown of  Tulsa, Oklahoma, to the Minnesota Lynx, 80-74.

There was an overflow crowd of 7,806, which included WNBA commissioner Donna Orender who flew in to welcome Tulsa and their fans to the league and to see Marion Jones.

After the game, Marion Jones told reporters, ” I am learning as I go. I know it will take time for the game to come together for me. I will do whatever it takes to win games for the ballclub.”

Jones, who won a national championship for North Carolina in college, made her  return to basketball after more than a decade away. After college, she was a world-wide track star and then was stripped of her five Olympic track medals, including three golds, and served time in prison for lying to federal investigators.

Jones’ played only 3 minutes and 19 seconds and watched most of the action from the bench. She committed one foul  just 3 seconds into her new career.

At 34-years-old, Jones is the oldest rookie in the WNBA and her debut received more media attention than most first-year players.

Marion Jones signs to play for WBNA’s Tulsa Shock

Team president Steve Swetoha, Marion Jones and coach Nolan Richardson (Shock)

Marion Jones shoots while coach Nolan Richardson watches (TWSE)

Wednesday, former sprinter Marion Jones, came out of seclusion to launch a new career after losing five Olympic medals for using steroids and doing jail time for lying to federal prosecutors.

Jones was a star at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, but admitted in 2008 that she had taken steroids and was stripped of her medals, including 3 golds.

Her federal prison term stemmed from lying to federal prosecutors about doping and her role in a check fraud scam.

She signed a contract with the WNBA’s Tulsa Shock on Wednesday saying that playing in Tulsa is not about her past transgressions but about fulfilling dreams of playing with and against some of the world’s best players.

Most people tend to forget that Marion Jones first came on the scene as a college basketball player. Before becoming known as the world’s fastest woman, she was the starting point guard on North Carolina’s national championship team in 1994. Jones was drafted bythe Phoenix Mercury in 2003 but never played in the WNBA.

(ts)

The 34-year-old Jones joined the Shock organization four days after working out for general manager and coach Nolan Richardson. Her contract is for one-year and no financial terms were disclosed.

Jones said that she started thinking about this venture 10 months ago. ” I realize the game has changed so much since the last time I played. That makes it even more of a challenge for me,” she said.

Jones will join a Shock team that is a work in progress since moving from Detroit, Michigan. All-Star players Deanna Nolan and Katie Smith had agreed to contract extensions, but might not be with team when the season starts in May.

Coach Richardson says that Nolan has indicated she wants to skip the 2010 season to rest instead of  relocating to Tulsa. And former Ohio State star Katie Smith, a six-time All-Star, has said shw won’t play in Tulsa and is a free agent.

Another unknown is how well will the Shock draw as the city’s only major sports team. Tulsa has a population of

592,000 and it’s the second-smallest city in the WNBA, behind Uncasville, Connecticut, home of the Connecticut Sun.

The Shock will play at the beautful 18,000-seat BOK Center in the downtown area. The team overall has been successful as the Detroit Shock since its 1998 debut has won titles in 2003, 2006 and 2008.

Nolan Richardson, who as a head college basketball coach began at the University of Tulsa, says that his research indicates the Tulsa Shock will draw fans. Richardson led Arkansas to the men’s NCAA championship the same year Marion Jones won the title at North Carolina, will bring his “Hell Style” of basketball to the WNBA.

SOUNDS FROM THE PRESS CONFERENCE (to listen to the audio file, click on the number)

44 496 MARION JONES Tulsa Shock On trying to play in the WNBA is it redemption or not