In the 1994 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers selected a guard/forward from Temple University as their 10th pick in the first round. This 6’6″ Florida native and the 1993-1994 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year was Eddie Jones. Jones played in the NBA for fourteen seasons (1994-2008), five of which were for the Lakers. Known for his defensive skills — primarily his ability to force steals, and his three-point shooting, Jones played for six different NBA teams including the Lakers, the Charlotte Hornets, the Miami Heat, the Memphis Grizzles, the Dallas Mavericks and the Indiana Pacers (was released by Indiana prior to the start of the season).
Despite a number of playoff appearances in the 1990s, there was a rather somber feeling surrounding the Lakers and Lakers fans regarding the team’s overall performance during this decade. This is quite understandable and perhaps expected considering the Lakers ended the “Showtime Era” at the onset of the 1990s. The lasting impression of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on both the NBA and the Lakers was so strong that their shoes weren’t filled for over half-a-decade when Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant joined forces in L.A.
The 1990s witnessed a different team dominate the NBA, the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. Meanwhile, on the Pacific Coast, this decade was a rebuilding period for the Lakers. Jones joined point guard Nick Van Exel in the backcourt. This young, athletic, and skilled combination was the centerpiece for the Lakers’ rebuilding initiative in the mid-1990s. Van Exel’s flashy style of performance and Jones’ defensive mentality drew back the fans who might have strayed when “Showtime” ended and brought in new hope for the fans who remained dedicated.
During his rookie season with the Lakers, Jones averaged 14 points per game and 2.05 steals per game while starting in 58 games during the regular season. Jones’ 1.75 steals/turnover ratio during his rookie season led the NBA, which definitely helped him place fourth in voting for the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1995. Jones’ achievements did result in him making the 1994-1995 All-Rookie First Team and was named the MVP of the 1994-1994 All-Star Rookie Challenge, posting a game-high 25 points, six steals and four rebounds.
Jones made eleven playoff appearances during his 14-year NBA career, four of which occurred while he was a Laker. In his playoff career, Jones averaged 12.8 points per game and pocketed a total of 105 steals. At the end of his fourteen-year career, he tallied up an average of 14.8 points per game and 1.7 steals per game. Jones was traded to the Charlotte Hornets along with Elden Campell for Glen Rice, J.R. Reid, and B.J. Armstrong in 1999.
Eddie Jones will be remembered as a fan favorite among Lakers fans. Notably, Jones acted as a mentor to none other than Kobe Bryant during Kobe’s early years in the NBA. He is a three-time All-Star, making the All-Star team twice as a Laker. Jones has the 22nd highest total of career steals in the NBA as well as the 12th highest total of made 3-pointers.