After a season in which they made it to the NBA Finals, the Phoenix Suns are currently the best team in the NBA (37-9). On Tuesday, the organization rewarded general manager James Jones with a multiyear contract extension amid the current run of success.
“I’m just fortunate and I’m extremely grateful to be a part of it,” Jones said of the contract extension to The Undefeated. “It’s more than I could have ever dreamed of to be a part of a team like this, some of the best professionals across sports. And to have the success that we’re having, it’s so much fun. When you step into this job, you never really know what it’ll be like. You hear stories about what it looks like, what the profession looks like, and the arc of a career in the front office or in an organization.”
Pursuing excellence: James Jones will continue building a winning culture in Phoenix.#ValleyProud
— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) January 25, 2022
Jones was hired by the Suns in 2017 to serve as the vice president of basketball operations before being named interim general manager. In April 2019, they removed the interim tag and named him their permanent GM. During the 2019 offseason, Jones hired Monty Williams as head coach, who went on to be named the 2021 Coach of the Year by the National Basketball Coaches Association. Jones also acquired All-Star guard Chris Paul, a key figure in helping the team reach the 2020-21 NBA Finals.
For his efforts, Jones was named the 2021 NBA Executive of the Year. He reportedly declined all interviews during last season’s playoffs about earning the award because he preferred to keep the focus on the players. When he finally spoke about it, he called it a “team award.”
“I’ve always been a part of great teams, and I don’t take myself too seriously,” Jones told The Undefeated. “That award, the franchise, the players, the coaches, the staff, what I call the entire Suns team, they made me look good. I got credit for their works. If they don’t win games, they don’t excel at a high level, the decisions that we make from personnel, the decisions that we make with our personnel, they don’t turn out, they don’t pan out.
“And in this league, if you don’t win, you go home. They did a lot of winning, those guys won a lot of games. They’ve had a lot of success, so for me, I take it as a team award. So, for me personally, I’m just thankful for my team.”
Jones’ humility stems from his faith in Jesus. He’s remained humble even after a successful 14-year playing career, which included three championships playing alongside LeBron James — who’s called Jones his “favorite player of all time” — with the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jones is one of just nine players who have reached the NBA Finals in six straight seasons. He also won the NBA 3-point contest in 2011.
“It’s always been big for me,” Jones told One Christian Voice in 2017. “I was raised in the church, and Mom and my grandparents made sure I was exposed to spiritual things.”
He said his faith guided him through the tough moments of his playing career, including injuries during the early and middle years of his career.
“Having my Christian faith and being able to rely on God helps me stay calm even when things don’t look good at times,” Jones said. “It has been the reason I can do what I do.”
Suns chaplain Travis Hearn recently told Sports Spectrum that his team chapels aren’t just full of players, but Williams is always there and often so is Jones.
“The moment the Suns hired James Jones, I knew it was on,” Hearn said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in December. “James used to be a player for the Suns, so I was his chaplain. He didn’t miss chapel. He went to church. His wife, Destiny, his kiddos are a great family. Not only that, but he’s a genius, and he’s been in several different Finals, and his his best friend is LeBron James.
“You’re not going to get more championship fiber DNA than in someone like James Jones. So, when [Suns owner] Robert Sarver brought in James Jones, and then James Jones brought in Monty — if the top is healthy, the body is going to be healthy.”
Outside of basketball, Jones is focused on giving back to the community through his foundation, the James Jones Legacy Foundation, which focuses on giving children a chance to succeed by placing positive role models in their lives.
While winning in the NBA is a goal, Jones knows his platform has a greater purpose because his life is about a greater goal.
“There is something bigger than this game,” he told One Christian Voice. “I’m all about people, and I can — through this game — engage and inspire people. Ultimately, my salvation is my most cherished prize I’m going after.”
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