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    August 10, 2018 9:49 AM BST

    DeLisha Milton-Jones is stubbornly optimistic, which is a pretty necessary quality for someone to be a professional athlete for two decades. Cheap Jersyes .Milton-Jones hoped for one more opportunity this year in the WNBA -- reached out to teams and stayed in shape -- ready to go if she got the call. She felt she could still be a positive veteran influence for young players. Her optimism extended all the way until mid-September as the regular season came to a close.It was like, OK, this is it, its over, said Milton-Jones, who officially announced her retirement recently at age 42. Its sad it had to end that way. Its hard to watch the playoffs, especially a team like Atlanta which was down a veteran post player.But I had to come to terms with it. I have to know theres a lesson in this for me. I have to move on to phase two of my life, take all the experiences Ive had, and use them for someone elses good.She will do that right away as an assistant coach for Ryan Weisenberg at Pepperdine. The Waves players likely cant even grasp just how much experience Milton-Jones has: how many games she has played, practices she has taken part in, countries she has competed in. The 1997 Wade Trophy winner for Florida, Milton-Jones started playing professionally before some of todays college freshmen were even born.Milton-Jones, who began in the ABL, appeared in more games than anyone in WNBA history, with 499 in the regular season -- averaging 11.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 steals -- and 50 playoff games, where her numbers were even a little better (11.5, 6.1, 1.5).She won two WNBA titles with Los Angeles. For USA Basketball, she won two Olympic gold medals, plus two golds and a bronze from the world championship. Her overseas career also was very decorated, as she played for teams in Russia, Italy, the Czech Republic, Spain, Turkey and Korea.As the WNBA gets set to start the playoff semifinals, Milton-Jones has an interesting perspective. For one, she was on the last Sparks team to make the WNBA Finals, in 2003. For another, her Los Angeles teams are the last to win back-to-back WNBA championships.Why has that, in particular, been so tough to do?Its very hard, because you have to do everything you did the year before, times two, she said. Whos really dedicated to go through that? To have the entire group committed to that journey, thats the first thing.But also players and other teams get better. And if you dont come back and prove as an individual that you can still add your piece to the puzzle, thats going to make it hard. The dynamic of a team changes from one year to the next, even if its a lot of the same players. Those are the rigors of the journey you have to make.Especially considering the league is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, it seemed like the right time for the Sparks to honor Milton-Jones this season, which was sure to be her last even if she had gotten a call to play. She spent 11 of her 17 WNBA seasons with the Sparks, playing 344 games in the regular season and 48 in the playoffs for Los Angeles.But a Sparks spokeswoman said that executive vice president/general manager Penny Toler wanted the organization focused on the current team and the playoffs and would not have a ceremony this year for Milton-Jones.Seattle (Lauren Jackson), New York (Swin Cash), Phoenix (Penny Taylor) and Indiana (Tamika Catchings) all made the playoffs this season, yet still took time to honor their retiring players.It seems a shame the Sparks couldnt arrange even a halftime acknowledgement at Fridays playoff game at Staples Center to let fans express their appreciation to Milton-Jones, especially since she and husband, Roland Jones, live in Los Angeles.Milton-Jones admitted it was a disappointment that didnt happen. But she also knows its time to move on to the next chapter of her life, while also maintaining her love for the WNBA.Milton-Jones echoed the sentiments of other retiring players in regard to how important it is for former players to stay involved with the league in some capacity -- particularly in mentorship roles, passing on the history of the WNBA and womens basketball in general.I hope the current and future players take pride in this product and not take it for granted, she said. Take care of the league, because its special. A lot of people fought hard for it, not just for themselves but future generations.Milton-Jones hopes to add her name to the list of former WNBA players whove become successful college coaches. But she is also from the era long before social media and the ubiquity of cell phones and knows todays players grow up in a different world.Ive been in the situation where Ive been the oldest player in the locker room for many years, Milton-Jones said. I learned years ago the best way to relate to younger people is to relate on their level.Theyre not going to understand my mentality all the time, because they havent had the experiences Ive had. Look eye to eye with them, listen to what theyre saying, break down the barriers. I want them to see me as someone who understands them and can have a conversation with them.Milton-Jones said because young players in club basketball can go to whichever coach at that level makes them happiest, they sometimes have difficulty adjusting to the college atmosphere.I think kids are more sensitive to how theyre talked to, how you look at them, how you make them feel, said Milton-Jones, who adds that shed love to pick Geno Auriemmas brain on the topic. I think the old-school style is someone giving us that stern look and knowing, If I dont straighten up, my butts going to be on the line running.I think there has to be a balance with that old-school type of coaching and finding a way to do it with a little of the sting taken out of it. You have to use psychology more.So this is a new challenge for Milton-Jones, and one shes ready to tackle. Leaving her playing career was brutally hard; theres no sugarcoating that. But when she talks to youngsters about working hard and cherishing every minute on the court, theyll know it comes from someone who excelled a long, long time at both. Cheap NFL Jerseys . Miikka Kiprusoff had just announced his retirement after a decade-long run in Calgary and it would be up to Berra and Ramo to fill the void. Wholesale NFL Jerseys . -- Adam Snyder returned to the San Francisco 49ers this season because the offensive lineman thought it was his best opportunity to win a championship. . -- Aldon Smith believes he is on the path to being sober for good. CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Matt Johns will be Virginias starting quarterback on Saturday at Georgia Tech.Coach Bronco Mendenhall made the announcement Monday, saying that Johns, who started every Cavaliers game last season, will replace struggling transfer Kurt Benkert.The Cavaliers (2-8, 1-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) lost their fifth straight on Saturday, 34-14 against Miami. Benkert fumbled the ball away twice after halftime, and Johns replaced him with about five minutes to play.Mendenhall was effusive in his praise of Johns for his leadership all season, even after losing the starting job.Im genuine, authentic when I say this, Mendenhall said. He is an amazing human being and a really good player and a good leader. I think our team recognizes that and no one wants success for him more than his teammates.The coach says Benkert, who has started the first 10 games this year, has reached the point of needing to take a step back after his recent struggles. He has thrown for 20 touchdowns, but also 11 interceptions, and has struggled under pressure, which has been plentiful. Virginia has allowed 31 sacks.I think its the best thing for our team. I also think its the best thing to do for Kurt, Mendenhall said. I think hell grow and develop more by playing this role for a little bit, and I have to let Matt have his chance. Hes done way too much for the program.Linebacker Zach Bradshaw, like Johns a senior, believes the team will get a boost from the switch.Obviously we love both Kurt and Matt, and Matts been around forever ... he sttarted last year, Bradshaw said. Wholesale Jerseys USA. Im really happy for him that he has this opportunity. If theres anyone on the team that deserves it, its him, especially being put in the situation that he was put in, he hasnt complained once.Johns threw for 20 touchdowns with 17 interceptions last season as Virginia finished 4-8. His interception total led the nation, and when the stronger-armed Benkert arrived as a transfer from East Carolina, he was a better fit with the up-tempo offense preferred by Mendenhall and his staff. Benkert was eligible to play immediately because hed earned his degree and he won the starting job.Johns had only been in games as the holder on field goals before Saturday, and threw a touchdown pass on a fake field goal against North Carolina. He was 3 for 7 and had three passes dropped against the Hurricanes.Johns was not made available to the media on Monday, but after the loss to Miami, said he remains on board with what Mendenhall is trying to build at Virginia. The Cavaliers have not been to a bowl game since 2011.The culture is changing, and thats something you see on the inside of the walls, not something you see from the outside looking in, he said after the game. Moving forward, the culture will be established and coach Mendenhall has done a great job of that.---More AP college football: Hank on Twitter: Cheap MLB Jerseys cheap jerseys Cheap Jerseys Free Shipping cheap nfl jerseys Cheap Jerseys USA China Jerseys Cheap NFL Authentic Jerseys Cheap Jerseys For Sale Cheap NFL Jerseys China Wholesale Jerseys Cheap NBA Jerseys ' ' '