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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Momo Jones emotional on NYC reunion with UConn’s Kemba Walker

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Two storied basketball programs Arizona and Connecticut collide Saturday for a trip to the Final Four, but that was hardly enough for reporters to talk about at today’s media session.

The questions were about a time many years ago in a city many miles away.

UConn’s Kemba Walker and Arizona’s Kevin Parrom grew up together in Bronx, N.Y. UA point guard Momo Jones lived nearby in Harlem. The stories flowed like a family reunion. 

Parrom talked about the time Walker showed up to an AAU basketball game late (around halftime) and still won as the difference maker.

Walker recalled the times he slept on Arizona assistant coach Book Richardson’s couch before an early flight to basketball camps.

Richardson, too, grew up in New York and coached Walker in the New York Gachos AAU program.

Jones showed pride of the city’s ambitious culture and never-quit attitude while New York media interviewed him.

Then the media wanted comparisons.

Jones’s confidences comes from a me-against-world mentality. Walker’s swagger brings him to another planet but he keeps the trash talking to a minimum.

At one point in his 36-point attack against San Diego State in the Sweet 16, Walker looked over to Richardson and shouted something like “”I can’t be stopped.””

Parrom said his composure is more like Walker, the quieter type who shows it on the floor. A reporter responded by asking: “”So you wouldn’t kiss a television camera?”” in reference to what Jones did after beating Texas.

“”No, I only kiss girls,”” Parrom said with a laugh.

But while most of the cross-borough chatter was lighthearted, Jones poured his emotions into a question about what it would be like if his late father could be here to see him and his “”brothers”” competing for a Final Four.

The question nearly brought Jones to tears after a long pause.

“”(My father) would probably be speechless,”” Jones said. “”He pushed me, he pushed me, he pushed me, he pushed me to the point of no return. All he wanted to see was me make it to this stage. If he was alive just to be here to watch this, I think he would be the happiest man on earth. And there’s nothing that I can do but play my tail off for him and try to make it to a Final Four.””

A Sports Illustrated reporter then asked how a New York City background impacts his attitude.

His response couldn’t have been said any better.

“”I’ve been through some rough stages in my life. I’ve been through some bumps in the road. I’ve been through a lot of changes, adversity — when you go through that, you pick up on something that a lot of people don’t.

“”Where I come from, you can either channel it as animosity or you can put it in this little box that I have and channel it to all the right directions. Just on the court is like my sanctuary. It’s where I let out everything. I can’t just walk and say what I want to say and burst out so on the court I play with heart, I play with fire and I play with emotion.

“”And that’s my way.””

Momo’s way — the way Arizona fans want it. 

— Bryan Roy is an Interdisciplinary Studies senior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu

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