Mr. Jones and me

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Mr. Jones and me

Dear Ace: I heard the John Paul Jones Arena (www.johnpauljonesarena.com) was not named after the well-known naval hero of the Revolutionary War, but inside the arena, they have engraved one of his famous quotes, “I have not yet begun to fight.” What’s the deal? Is JPJ named after the admiral or what?—A. Rina Rocke

A. Rina: What’s this about a naval hero? Ace just assumed the building was named after the dude from Led Zeppelin. Well now, Ace just feels silly and vaguely xenophobic for petitioning the JPJ to play the bass line from “Immigrant Song” when Baltic forward Laurynas Mikalauskas runs out on the court. Lithuania’s kind of a “land of ice and snow,” right? But if it’s not Zeppelin’s bassist and it’s not the naval commander, who is the eponymous John Paul Jones? And why the engraving?


Named for neither the Led Zeppelin bassist nor the naval admiral, the John Paul Jones Arena is linked to one of the world’s richest blokes (that’s him second from the right), who happens to be a ’Hoo like his daddy (second from left) before him.

The short answer is, Paul Tudor Jones II is a very wealthy man. A futures trader well known in the world of commodities, he’s the president of investment mega-corp the Tudor Group, and right now, he’s the 117th richest man in the world. He also got an economics degree from the University of Virginia in 1976. His father, John Paul Jones, is a 1948 UVA law grad. And so it becomes clear.

The younger Jones led the charge to replace U-Hall and subsequently put up $35 million of the total $130 million it took to build the new arena, so Ace reckons he had carte blanche to name the thing anything he damn well pleased. So Jones named it after his dad, who loves basketball and who’d sent him off to UVA to study economics in the first place. Ace likely would’ve taken that opportunity to name it a dirty word, but maybe that sort of thing is why Paul Tudor Jones is worth a few billion dollars, whereas Ace has been known to duck out on a bar tab or two just to gas up the Acemobile.

As for the engraving, it basically boils down to this: The original John Paul Jones and Thomas Jefferson knew each other, Jefferson thought Jones was a cool guy—“the principal hope of America’s future efforts on the ocean,” TJ once called him—and…the association kind of ends there. So there’s an historical figure with a tenuous connection to UVA who shares a name with a recently built arena and he’s got a badass quote that’s appropriate for sports competitions. Why not fudge it a little?

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